Although many teens go through periods of feeling moody or confused, the rate of adolescent depression has soared in recent years, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens. If your teen experiences true depression over a period of two weeks or more, start by setting up an appointment with a professional. Prompt treatment minimizes the risks that the teen will turn to alcohol, drugs, crime or sex to allay feelings of depression, while delaying treatment can result in suicidal depression. There may be a family history of depression or your teen may have a chemical imbalance in the brain. Clinical depression and bipolar disorder should be treated by a professional, and in addition to medication, he or she may prescribe a support group.
Psychotherapy, cognitive-behavior therapy and interpersonal therapy are all used to treat depression, but you want to make sure that the group your teen will be in isn't going to make things worse. While there is a plethora of online support groups for those who suffer from depression, such as Psych Central's Depression Support Group, Beating the Beast, Emotions Anonymous, Empty Souls, and Roses and Thorns, many of those who take part in them have not had any mental health training and their advice may not be helpful.
While online groups have the advantage of anonymity, a face-to-face support group may be more helpful in promoting change. Determine if your insurance company will cover the cost of the support group (if there is a cost), get recommendations for a support group from your teen's doctor, call professional mental health organizations or a community mental health center and ask them for a recommendation, or contact your local hospital or place of worship. If you can attend one of the support group meetings, check out the leader and his or her credentials, and see if the group supports, encourages and empowers its members.