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Holistic Approaches to Treating Adolescent Depression: What Parents Should Know

Holistic Approaches to Treating Adolescent Depression - What Parents Should Know

Depression is widely treated with medicine and scientifically approved therapies. However, the treatment may not yield the expected results in the recommended time frame. When this happens, the right way to go about recovery is to employ holistic approaches as a complementary alternative to treatment. 

At Nexus Teen Academy, we are committed to partnering with families and teens to ensure effective treatment for all their mental health concerns. Through our lens, this blog guides you on the understanding that treating adolescent depression goes far beyond symptom management. It also sheds more light on the significance of holistic care, its benefits, and how to choose the right treatment program for your teen.

The Need for a Holistic Approach to Adolescent Depression

Holistic treatment is a comprehensive treatment plan focusing on the patient’s physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. It is not your usual rigid set of therapy techniques, as it is tailored to suit each patient according to their specific needs.

A holistic approach to treating adolescents is important because it focuses on treating the whole person. It understands that an individual’s well-being is not just limited to physical symptoms. Therefore, it recognizes all symptoms and treats each one of them amicably.

Studies show that a clinically depressed person is likely to suffer from substance abuse disorders, also commonly known as co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders are when mental health and substance abuse disorders occur simultaneously.

Depressed people tend to feel anxious and hopeless. Such feelings may push them into using drugs to alleviate the symptoms of depression. In such instances, the holistic approach focuses on treating both depression and also the substance abuse disorder. Failure to treat one condition may result in the other or both flaring out of proportion.

Medically Proven Holistic Approaches

Holistic treatment covers multiple disorders; therefore, it uses a variety of medically proven holistic approaches. The approaches range from meditation to therapy modalities like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. 

One of the benefits of holistic treatment is there are several options to choose from. Therefore, you do not have to worry about being stuck in a treatment module you do not prefer. Some of the medically proven holistic approaches are:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral therapy is among the popular approaches used in treating depression. It is a talk therapy aimed at changing your negative views on things. The therapy sessions aim to remind you that there are so many beautiful ways to think about life if you only look at it differently.

There are a few techniques that are used during CBT therapy:

Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring is a therapeutic technique that helps individuals change their negative thinking to positive ones. It usually takes approximately 30-60 minutes a session and spans over 12-20 weeks.

During cognitive restructuring, a mental health provider analyzes your thought process and how it affects your emotions and moods. You can recognize your negative thoughts and tendencies when you understand how you think. An awareness of your negative thoughts is all it takes to rewire your brain into thinking happier, uplifting, and positive thoughts.

For example, instead of saying, “I do not have lots of friends because I am unlovable,” you can say, “I have a few friends because it takes me time to warm up to people.

Guided Discovery

In guided therapy, therapists ask questions to understand your viewpoints, acquaint themselves with them, and then ask questions that challenge your beliefs. Its main aim is to help you view things from other people’s perspectives.


Writing is a good way to help you attune to your emotions. Your therapist may ask you to write down some of your negative thoughts and the positive ones you should consider instead.

Relaxation and Stress Reduction Techniques

Some of the ways you can reduce stress include:

  • Yoga
  • Imagery
  • Breathing exercises.

A mastery of each helps you lower your stress levels and be more in control of your thoughts and emotions.

Interpersonal Therapy (IT)

In interpersonal therapy, a mental health professional works with a depressed person to treat mood disorders. Interpersonal therapy aims to help a person improve the quality of relationships. It also aids in maintaining existing interpersonal relationships. This therapeutic approach focuses on four key areas:

  • Interpersonal deficits, e.g., loneliness.
  • Interpersonal disputes caused by conflicting viewpoints
  • Difficult life transitions, e.g., changing schools
  • Managing unresolved grief

Treatment lasts 12- 16 weeks and can be in an individual or group setting. During this period, the therapist assesses the teenager’s depressive symptoms and their effects on interpersonal relationships. Later, the therapist provides solutions to the severed interpersonal ties, like teaching the teen better communication skills.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals improve their existing relationships with their family members. Battling depression can be a lonely journey, and teens need a solid support system. When one person is diagnosed with depression, it takes a toll on the whole family. Therefore, family therapy is important.

In family therapy, you work with a mental health provider to improve communication in the family dynamic. Your therapist can also ask questions that encourage a close-knit relationship. During depression treatment, the frequency of family therapy depends on each family. It may take just a few sessions or span over several months.

Some of the vast benefits of family therapy are:

  • It provides a solid support system for your teen
  • Family therapy encourages open and honest communication among the family members.
  • It is a good way of creating a safe environment that encourages your teen’s recovery.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

Clinical depression is widely treated with psychotherapy and scientifically proven approaches. However, that does not mean that those are the only ways to treat adolescent depression. Several complementary approaches make the treatment process more inviting and fun. Some of the methods include mindfulness and art therapy.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation may not be the first thing you expect when looking for treatment options for your teens. Truly, your teen being mindful and practicing meditation will not just make the depression go away but is a perfect way of alleviating the symptoms. 

Some of the ways mindfulness and meditation work in treating depression are:

It Helps You Rewire Your Thoughts

Depression tends to make you think negatively about yourself and stuff in general. Meditating and being mindful have been proven to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, but only if you keep meditating.

It helps in Managing Depressive Episodes

Meditation helps an individual clear their thoughts and relax. It enables you to be more in touch with your emotions and notice your thought patterns and potential stressors. If you start thinking negatively or getting aggravated, it is easy to restructure your brain to think more positively. You can also practice self-care to prevent the depressive episodes from getting worse.

Art and Music Therapy

Art is generally associated with creativity and freedom. It is one way to help teens and young adults understand their emotions and develop positive coping skills. Art therapy instills problem-solving skills. It also allows your teen to understand their feelings more and express themselves creatively. Exposure to music has also been linked to decreased depressive symptoms in teens.

Lifestyle Modifications and Support

Taking medications and going to therapy is not all it takes to cure your depressed teen. A change in their lifestyle choices is also a good option. However, you may want to talk to their mental health provider first. The healthier your teen’s lifestyle is, the higher the chances they develop healthier bodies and mindsets. Below are some ways to complement the treatment modalities in place.

Healthy Diet

Did you know that eating healthy is beneficial for your mental health? The adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away is not just a common adage. However, there has not been a specific food or nutrient set aside for curing depressive episodes. Some of the nutrients you want to include in your teenager’s diet include;

  • Vitamins and Minerals: The brain needs several minerals like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B. Some important brain functioning minerals include magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates help stimulate the brain to produce the feel-good hormones necessary in combating depressive episodes
  • Amino Acids: They help your brain produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine enables you to feel motivated, and serotonin evokes the feeling of contentment.
  • Fatty acids
  • Water: The brain’s mass is largely made of water. Dehydration negatively impacts your mental health and can lead to irritability.


Exercise helps regulate stress hormones. It triggers the brain to release neurotransmitters; therefore, combining it with other treatments is an effective way of treating symptoms of depression. Aerobic exercises have been linked to antidepressant effects.

Some of the major effects of exercise on your mental health include;

  • It may help boost mood and self-worth
  • May relieve stress
  • It may help promote better sleep

Building a Supportive Routine

Having basic routines and daily habits has a positive impact on mental health. Routines do not have to be complicated; something as simple as brushing your teeth or sleeping at the same time every day can go a long way in alleviating the buildup of stress. 

Routines usually provide structure to your day, and if complemented with medication, it is a perfect way to help depressed teens stay on track.

The Role of Medication in Holistic Treatment

In the holistic treatment approach, medication is vital in addressing critical conditions that therapeutic remedies alone may not suffice. Certain scenarios might also call for medication to alleviate symptoms or balance neurotransmitter levels. Therefore, a holistic approach is not a standalone treatment approach. 

Balancing medication and holistic approaches calls for you to understand that medication is just one approach to treatment. It can be complemented by other methods like meditation and acupuncture to treat both the primary and the underlying condition. 

At Nexus Teen Academy, we pride ourselves on adopting a cautious and individualized approach to treatment. We have tailored treatment plans that are created to address all of your teen challenges. 

While acknowledging the potential benefits of medication in managing symptoms, Nexus prioritizes holistic interventions that empower teens to develop coping skills, emotional resilience, and self-awareness.

Practical Aspects of Holistic Treatments

Duration and Commitment

Holistic treatments vary in duration depending on how severe the depressive symptoms are. It also relies on the individual’s responsiveness and the specific modalities used. Methods like acupuncture or massage may span over several weeks or months.

Psychotherapy may take 15 to 20 sessions to start showing significant improvement. Approaches like lifestyle adjustments, e.g., dieting, exercising, and having a routine, may require consistency to achieve the desired results.

Insurance and Financial Considerations

Insurance options for holistic treatments vary. Some modalities may be covered by your insurance plan, while others may not. At Nexus Academy, we accept most major private pay insurance plans. We also allow you to verify insurance policies and inquire about coverage for specific holistic services.

Accessing Services

Finding Holistic Treatments that offer the best care can be a daunting task. Some of the many ways you can get a good treatment center are through numerous online searches, referrals from healthcare providers, or physical check-ins. You, however, do not have to put yourself through all that stress to find a good treatment program. 

At Nexus Teen Academy, we take a comprehensive, holistic approach to alleviating your teenager’s depression. Our staff comprises the best mental health providers who work together to offer only the best for your teen. At Nexus, we also provide educational materials to support your teen further in their holistic wellness journey.

The Crucial Role of Parents in Holistic Treatment

Did you know that parental involvement in their teenager’s depression treatment process makes it more effective? Parents play an important role in holistic treatment by providing their teenagers with the support, guidance, and nurturing environment they need for recovery.

Some of the ways you can help your teen through their holistic treatment therapy is by:

Supporting Your Teen

As a parent, you can show your unwavering support for your treat through open communication, actively listening to them, and being empathetic. Encourage your teenager to participate in therapy sessions for their depression and remind them to take their self-care seriously.

Creating a Healing Environment at Home

Home should be your teenager’s haven. Foster an environment that encourages your teen to speak freely of their struggles, a space where they feel loved and understood. Encourage positive coping skills for your teenager to alleviate their depression symptoms. Cultivating a supportive and nurturing home can significantly enhance your teenager’s holistic healing journey.

Monitoring Progress and Adjusting Approaches

Treating adolescent depression does not stop at finding the best holistic treatment center. It is essential to continually monitor progress and assess whether the desired holistic approach is alleviating your teenager’s depression symptoms. One way you can assess progress is by tracking improvement and incorporating flexible treatment plans.

Tracking Improvement

Observing your teenager and keeping an open line of communication is important in monitoring your adolescent’s progress. Regularly engage with their mental health provider to understand your teen’s progress. You also want to pay attention to their behavioral changes and emotional well-being.

Being Flexible with Treatment Plans

A specific holistic approach might fail to achieve the expected result in the allocated time frame. Do not beat yourself up; individuals respond differently to various holistic approaches. Be open to adjusting your teenager’s treatment plan. Reassess your teen’s needs regularly as you explore different therapy options.


Holistic approaches offer a comprehensive treatment approach to treating depression in adolescents. It interconnects the body, mind, and spirit, ensuring that every aspect contributing to your teenager’s well-being is catered for. As parents, it is important to embrace holistic treatment as a complementary approach to treating your teenagers’ depression. 

At Nexus Academy, we pride ourselves in providing the best treatment options to treat your teenager’s mental health concerns, including depression. Ready to start your holistic treatment? Contact us at Nexus Academy for comprehensive guidance and tailored treatment plans for your teenager’s mental health needs.

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