Parenting My Teens Depression
We all want nothing more than to help our children grow and become the best version of themselves. It's a longing to be a safety net for our children. We want to be able to walk with them through their journey in life. We want to experience their good days and bad days with them, so we know how they are doing, to reassure them that they are not alone.
Signs (Behavior) that my teen may have depression.
Signs of emotional distress are revealed through one's behaviors. There is always a reason behind an action. In this case, the reason is emotional distress portrayed through the behavior of a teen. It is challenging, both for children and teens, to express their thoughts and emotions, making it more difficult to detect indicators of depression. It is important to work closely with a therapist specializing in children/adolescence because they have more knowledge and experience working with emotions in children. A specialist can provide the resources and materials to enable a teen's journey through emotion. The following shows only a few behavior patterns observed in teens with depression referencing the Mayo Clinic:
having a lack of interest in things they used to enjoy.
A child that was happy, becomes a moody teen.
A sudden drop in academic effort.
Seeming to be 'going through the motions'
Symptoms (Emotions) of my teen's depression
It is hard enough for teens to talk about their day, let alone their thoughts and feelings when they can't pinpoint the problem themselves. With the help of a Specialized Therapist, your teen can begin to identify how depression affects their thought processes. Again taken from Mayo Clinic, some symptoms of teenage depression are as follows:
Feelings of incomprehensible sadness, sometimes for no apparent reason.
Feeling frustrated or agitated quickly, over things that aren't generally bothersome.
Feeling confused and unable to internally identify emotions, or how they impact everyday life.
Having a negative viewpoint on everything,
obsessing over everything that has ever gone wrong in life.
Parenting My Teens Depression
It is one thing to be told how to handle certain situations, it's another thing to be experiencing those certain situations. Being a parent to a teenager with depression is one of those situations. For that reason, I have created a hypothetical situation to demonstrate how to approach a teen that has developed depression.
Bonny, the teen in this scenario, is a very energetic, happy-go-lucky person. She loves people, especially her little brother. Her mom, Linda has never had to ask about her day, because Bonny always just told her. However, when she came home from school yesterday, she went right to her room and shut the door quite loudly. Linda tried to interact with Bonny numerous times throughout the evening, to no avail. Bonny rushed down for dinner and took it up to her room. Sensing something was off, Linda chose not to point out the rules about food and let it go. This morning, she didn't even grab her lunch for school. She just rushed out, avoiding eye contact with everyone and that was that.
This is disheartening for Bonny's mom because she's never shut her mom out like that. Bonny's mom, Linda, has some choices to make. She can decide to focus on her own anger towards what happened yesterday, or she can proactively reach out to Bonny in a way that shows unconditional love and support.
Linda had Bonny's favorite treat, hot cocoa all ready for when Bonny gets home. Linda decides to position herself so that Bonny must bump into Linda to get inside so that she can't just rush off again.
When Bonny walks in, Linda greets her by saying, "I don't know about you, but today was rough, and I figured we could use some hot cocoa." At the same time, Linda takes Bonny's backpack and puts it aside for later.
This shows Bonny that her mom noticed her, validating that she is cared for and loved. At the same time, by taking Bonny's backpack and putting it aside, Linda is showing her that her wellbeing is valued the most. Since hot cocoa is Bonny's favorite treat, it is a nice distraction from whatever Bonny is going through.
Linda and Bonny sit at the table for quite some time in complete silence, until Bonny says "Uhm...mom about yesterday I'm sorry about that." Linda nods and looks at her and asks how she is doing., thus creating a safe space for Bonny to feel heard.
The silence lets Bonny lead this interaction. She is the only one who knows about life as a teenager and letting her introduce her emotions to Linda in her own time gives her that independence that all teens crave. At this point, Bonny cannot 'storm away' because she doesn't have anything to 'escape' from.
As a result of this interaction, Linda calls Bonny's school to set up a meeting with the school counselor. Bonny is told that she gets to lead the meeting. Linda is there for moral support, understanding, and collaboration with all those involved with her daughter's wellbeing. The meeting was successful, and it is agreed that Bonny needs a professional therapist that specializes in the mental health of teens to meet with her once a week outside of school.
It is important to persistently be involved in your teen's mental health regardless of their response to your efforts. Working alongside a school counselor and/or therapist that specializes in adolescence is a vital piece in regaining and maintaining mental health in your teen because they have the resources and education to help your family navigate the challenge of being a teenager with depression, together.
The following links are all the references summarized in this article:
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