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Young Adult Depression: What to do When Your Child is Refusing Therapy

Treating young adult depression is a delicate subject. Many teens refuse therapy because of the stigma associated with it. They may have also had a negative experience with a professional in the past.

Convincing a reluctant teen to go to counseling can feel like an uphill battle. It leaves many parents wondering if they should force their child to see a therapist, offer a bribe, or just give up on the idea of therapy altogether.”

Signs of Young Adult Depression

It can be hard to distinguish between teenage moodiness and young adult depression. Warning signs include:

  • Irritable for at least 2 weeks.
  • Lost interest in things your child used to enjoy.
  • Low energy and low motivation.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and guilt.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Poor performance in school.
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
Why Adolescents with Young Adult Depression Say No to Therapy

Teens struggling with young adult depression can be resistant to treatment. “Adolescents need to want to get better, and be willing to work with someone to make that happen.”

Reasons teens refuse therapy include:

  • She doesn’t think she needs help. She says, “This is just how I am.”
  • Doesn’t think therapy or medicine would work.
  • She’s already tried it and didn’t like it.
  • She thinks getting help is embarrassing.
  • She’s feeling defensive, and feels tired from struggling.
  • She feels hopeless. She can’t imagine that it’s possible for her to feel better.
young adult depression
Attend a Support Group

A great way to ease into therapy is through peer-to-peer support groups. Professional staff members provide encouragement and have an open mind. Try DBSA or NAMI groups.

Find a Good Therapeutic Match

One negative experience with a therapist can shut a teenager down. Don’t push your teen to find a new therapist immediately. Rather, “encourage him to keep trying by getting referrals from other providers, your family doctor, or school counselors. Have him interview more than one person and see who feels like the best fit.”

Create a List of Prominent People Living With Depression

Make a list of famous people living and thriving with depression. “Seeing this list shows her that improvement and functioning in the world despite having depression is possible.” Have your teen write down a list of goals she wants to achieve, and show her that she can flourish by going to therapy.

Have Hope and Be Open to Listening

Have an open mind when discussing treatment options with your teen. Let your child know that you carry hope for him, and that you confirm and understand his feelings. Establishing trust is the first step in helping teens recover from depression.

To learn more about treatment options, click here