Depression is an uphill battle, one that requires support.
Teens these days have a lot to take in and conquer. With everything that’s happening to the world, teenagers feel hopeless and somehow useless in imposing positive change or making a difference.
“It’s terrifying for a parent to think that they might miss signs of depression in their child. Unfortunately, it’s often the case. While in a small subset of cases parents bring their child in for help shortly after depression begins, the opposite is far more common in my clinical experience,” shared Alison Escalante, MD.
As parents, how can you recognize that your children are falling deeper into a void inside their heads? How does a parent acknowledge that their children are suffering even if they seem “normal?” And if they do find out that their children are suffering from it, what can they do to pull them up from that hole?
Parents have to be there when your children need you and when they don’t think they need you. Teenagers who suffer from depression usually appear like nothing’s wrong but the truth is, what’s deep inside them is a creating a massive hole in their humanity and is breaking them apart.
The face of depression
For some, it may seem daunting to fully understand that depression has become an endemic mental disorder that has debilitated children around the world. And it’s terribly quite difficult for parents to firmly grasp the reality that depression is already consuming their children. But the truth is millennials these days have quite the reputation for becoming less resilient, more overwhelmed and vulnerable as compared to the older generations.
Sometimes tagged as helicoptered, spoiled or pampered, teenagers today shows far less than what the eyes can see. According to studies, one of the main reasons why teen depression is becoming prevalent is due to family crisis.
What depression is NOT
Depression may vary from one teen to another. Here are some of the facts on what depression is NOT:
- Depression is not just sadness, it’s something more intense.
- Depression is not your easy-come, easy-go disorder; sometimes, it lasts for months or even years.
- Depression does not go well with relationships, career, and daily routines.
- Depression is not joy or pleasure. What you used to find enjoyable are no longer interesting.
- Depression is not concentration.
- Depression is not hopeful.
- Depression is not self-esteem; teenagers may feel worthless.
- Depression is not sleeping well.
- Depression is not energetic; people might feel exhausted all the time.
- Most definitely, depression is NOT a choice.
Advising your kids that they can just turn their depression around and things will get back to normal is the opposite of being helpful. Teenagers can’t just snap out of it even if they wanted to. By saying these non-therapeutic statements, you are showing your kids that you don’t really understand what is going on.
Be an effective support system
Depression genuinely exists. It is considered as a real psychological illness. Teens who claim to be depressed should not be disregarded because they can’t simply “shrug it off” unlike worry or sadness. Depression is an all-consuming mental disorder that parents need to have knowledge about.
How do parents help their children fight their battles against depression?
- Offer all the love, caring, and support.
Parents play a vital role in decreasing symptoms of depression. Never fail to show empathy and don’t disregard the emotional well-being of your teens. Be mindful of what you say to your teens because they are very sensitive about how you treat them. Always be ready to understand and give a helping hand.
- Show your teens how to handle intense emotions and thoughts.
Coping can be very hard for teens since they have immersed themselves in society. But because they are still adolescents, they still lack the skills to deal with social challenges. Allow your child to vent out these pent-up emotions; listen without being judgmental. Then, if solicited, provide valuable advice on how to handle such emotions effectively.
Eva Pomerantz, PhD, said that emotional distress can lead to other problems. “If indeed these are also antecedents to distress, part of helping [children] is getting them to think differently about their world,” she said.
- Help your teens to find meaning in life.
Amidst all the things that your children are going through – schoolwork, extracurricular activities, etc., help them find a deeper purpose in what they are doing. Rather than repeatedly reminding them that they are doing such tasks for the reason of landing the best college and getting a high-paying job, parents should explain the important applications of school and other activities to their future and to humanity.
In helping your children, Guy Diamond, PhD, also emphasized how the underutilized family therapy can be beneficial. “The misunderstanding of family therapy is that it’s about blaming parents. Really, the approach is that families are the medicine. They are curative-if we can help them develop the right skills and postures.”
Be the parent they need you to be and not the parent you want to be. Listen to everything they have to say. Time is of the essence; give them a portion of it. Instead of being the sword that fights for your kids, be the shield that protects them from depression. This is their battle and you are there to help them win.