Does Your Teen Seem Unusually Sad, Hopeless, Withdrawn Or Uninterested In Life?
Do you worry that your teen is suffering in silence, unable or unwilling to confide in you? Perhaps you notice your teen becoming withdrawn, no longer engaging in once-loved activities or seeming constantly bored and disinterested. It may be that your teen is spending more time sleeping and/or alone in his or her bedroom. Or maybe you notice your teen perpetually engaging in critical self-talk or expressing feelings of hopelessness. Does your teen regularly complain about aches and pains, fatigue and/or an increase or decrease in appetite? Your teen may even have expressed alarming or startling thoughts about low self-worth or hating life. Do you wish you knew how to help your teen work through feelings of sadness, low motivation or irritability and return to feeling happier, brighter and more hopeful?
Suffering with depression can be an incredibly confusing and lonely experience, especially for teen. Your teen’s lack of energy, intense sadness and/or numbness might have come out of nowhere or intensified slowly over time. It might be that he or she has become irritable with loved ones and/or unable to function at school. Or, perhaps your teen is performing well at school, but spending too many hours studying and worrying about grades. Your teen may feel confused, guilty or angry about how poorly he or she feels. It may even be that your teen feels unlovable or worthless. Do you worry that your teen may be suffering more than you realize?
Depression Is Incredibly Common During Adolescent Years
The teen years can be quite challenging, and teenage depression is a common experience for many. It is not surprising that many young people do not always open up to their parents about difficult emotions or struggles. Teens strive for independence, which is a normal part of development, and they often feel that their parents cannot relate to or understand them. Some teens even feel that their low or sad feelings don’t need or deserve attention. Many teens struggle with difficulties at home, school, friends, grades, relationships, health and sleep. Trying to navigate a good balance between school, friends, family, and extracurricular activities can often be overwhelming and lead to symptoms of depression, feelings of worthlessness, poor grades and difficulty concentrating. Teens often report feeling stuck in a pit of sadness and not knowing how to get out, leading to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
Depression in children and teenagers has only begun to be studied and diagnosed in the last 20 years. Yet, in this relatively short period of time, research has shown that teen depression is on the rise and about 20 percent of people will experience symptoms of depression before young adulthood and that depression in teens is on the rise. Roughly five percent of teens will suffer from serious depression, and adolescence has been found to be the most common time for depression symptoms to develop. Being diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as asthma, diabetes or cancer, can also increase the likelihood of developing depression.
Adolescents today are more depressed than ever before. Research has shown a correlation between time spent on social media and higher rates of depression or anxiety among teens and young adults. One reason used to explain this increase is the prevalence of social media. Essentially, the more time young people spend alone using social media, the less time they spend forming meaningful connections in person and/or getting adequate sleep, which is vital during formative teenage years. Children and teens are also constantly exposed to alluring advertisements, edited images, and seemingly perfect, extravagant lifestyles, and it can be easy to fall into a comparison trap. And, teens are often exposed to direct and anonymous bullying online. Even if your teen is not being bullied, he or she can witness online bullying and be fearful of it happening.
Coping with demanding schoolwork, pressure to excel and/or life transitions, such as moving or the death of a loved one, can also lead to a child or teen experiencing depression. Young people also have less developed coping resources than adults, making symptoms more confusing and difficult to manage. In addition, parents and teachers often unintentionally minimize or dismiss depression symptoms in children and teens or confuse symptoms for ordinary developmental or teenage behavior.
As a parent, you may be unsure if your teenager is experiencing normal bumps in the road or something more serious. Possibly you have tried to get your teen to open up, only find that he or she pushes you away, telling you that everything is fine or that you wouldn’t understand. On the other hand, some teens will ask for help and to speak to a therapist. Perhaps your teen is unsure how to talk about his or her inner life. Even if you have always had a close relationship, you may feel that providing your child with a mentor or a counselor could help. And, getting help for your teen can do wonders for the entire family, with positive changes often occurring in a short amount of time.
If you notice a sudden change in your child’s mood or behavior, it’s a good idea to initiate a conversation about how he or she is feeling. And, if your child is struggling with depression, help and support is available. An experienced depression therapist can help your child learn to reduce and manage symptoms, better understand and process suppressed emotions and reframe negative thought and behavior patterns.
Depression Therapy Can Provide Your Teen With Support, Skills And A New Path Forward
Depression counseling provides a safe space for your teen to form a supportive mentor relationship, which can help immensely with navigating the tricky adolescent years. And, therapy can be fun and practical, with experiential exercises to engage your teen and tap into what’s going on in his or her world.
In the confidential and comfortable setting of depression therapy sessions, your child will have the opportunity to express anything and everything that is causing him or her distress. Throughout sessions, I can help your child identify his or her innate strengths and resources. Drawing from strengths, creativity and imagination, your child can break out of the cycle of worry, stress and fatigue that is a hallmark of depression. It will very important to understand the dynamics of your child’s relationships and the system her or she live in and well as mind-body solutions. I’ll also provide your child with practical, effective tools and strategies to cope with heightened stress and prevent painful experiences from becoming overwhelming. Using meditation and mindfulness practices, which children and teens are typically very open to learning, your child can develop increased self-compassion, important self-care strategies and empathy for others. As your child increases in confidence and strengthens feelings of self-worth, he or she can also work toward establishing positive routines and behavior patterns. Through gaining vital, lifelong skills, your child can feel more empowered to be his or herself and to live life with more fun and joy.
Since 2001, I have been working to help children and teens manage depression. I have worked with children in multiple settings, including private practices, hospitals and pain and cancer clinics. I believe in the resiliency of the human spirit, and have seen how effective depression treatment can be for children and teens. With compassionate support and guidance and a trusting therapeutic relationship, your child can recognize his or her own strength and resilience, let go of comparison with others and take actionable steps toward realizing dreams and goals. It is possible for your child to acquire new skills, reconnect with loved ones and once cherished activities and get back to simply being a kid.
You may still have questions and concerns about treatment for depression…
I’m worried you’ll think my child’s depression is my fault.
Depression is very common, and it occurs for a variety of reasons, many of which are entirely out of your control. In fact, noticing your child’s unhappiness and bringing him or her to a depression therapist is the best thing you can do to help your child get back on track. And, research shows that early intervention can help young people with depression learn to manage symptoms so that they have a better quality of life as adults.
I’m afraid that my child will be labeled.
I don’t adhere to labels, except when used as a tool to clearly describe, understand and treat symptoms. Your child is much more than his or her depression symptoms, and I will never use a diagnosis to limit your child. Depression is a common term people understand, but there are many reasons people develop symptoms of depression, including difficult relationships, loss and lack of self-care, among others. Just because depression runs in your family does not mean that your child must suffer with symptoms of depression. There is hope and help available.
I’m worried that you’ll insist that my child take medication.
Medication is very rarely the first option when it comes to treating child or teen depression. And, I will never tell you that your child or teen must take medication. While medication can be helpful in certain cases, depression counseling is an effective treatment method with no side effects. I use multiple therapies that address your WHOLE child. The goal of the sessions often will focus on your child’s relationships, strengths, creativity, and resilience. I will help your teen understand the mind-body connection as it relates to his or her happiness.
What if my child or teen refuses to attend therapy?
Often, parents are surprised by their child’s enthusiasm and openness to working with a depression therapist. Attending therapy is now very common and many young people correctly view it as a welcome opportunity to explore complex thoughts and feelings. For children who are reluctant, it’s important not to dismiss their feelings, but to nevertheless encourage them to give therapy a chance. You can explain that depression therapy is confidential and a safe, fun place where we will focus on your child or teen’s agenda and help him or her reach goals and feel empowered. Often, encouraging your child to attend just three sessions can help relieve doubt and fear as he or she takes a step forward toward creating meaningful change. Many teens report enjoying therapy and find it hugely beneficial. And, when they feel comfortable in a confidential environment where they will not be judged, they are often more open to accepting help.
Your Child Can Have A Happier, More Fulfilling Life
I invite you to call 972-489-2658 today for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I can answer any questions you have about working with a depression therapist and my practice.