Watching one of your children flail, gasping to keep their head above the thick cloud of depression is all kinds of sad.
It’s also frustrating, because as parents we feel helpless. We also feel crushing guilt.
Guilt that the life we lead contributed to their depression, guilt when you snap at your kid, guilt when you ride them to keep them on task, guilt that you could have hugged them more, maybe held those apron string tighter and guilt that you can’t fix their hurt.
Depression is real, it’s like drowning while walking.
Depression sneaks up on us, one minute you can feel fine, plugged into life and functioning well, and then suddenly out of no where it feels as if someone flicked a switch and you are plunged into that thick cloud of sadness and anxiety.
There is self loathing and sadness, feelings of inadequacy and then there’s the feelings of wondering what it would all be like if you didn’t exist on this earth anymore.
The struggle is real. I’ve been there myself.
Depression and anxiety doesn’t discriminate, the black dog can work its way into anyones heart…and mind.
Shaking off depression isn’t as easy as ‘snapping out of it’…and when you are a teen it feels like your whole entire world is crushing in on you and your head might explode.
Anxiety makes their heart race and they struggle to make decisions.
Tasks feel overwhelming, anger rages, school or friends suddenly don’t seem important.
Breathing is hard, sleep evades them…and holding back the tears is just bloody hard work.
Watching your child with depression…is depressing. It’s heartbreakingly sad.
Adults understand the signs of depression and have the means to ask for help, teenagers must rely on parents or teachers to recognize their depression and get them the treatment they need. Even when they don’t want the help.
How do you know if your teen is depressed?
Signs of depression in a teenager can be difficult to determine because teens are moody buggers. It’s more than that though, it’s irritability, becoming easily frustrated and angry outbursts.
It’s complaining of headaches and stomach aches. It’s fear of rejection, feeling worthless, being extra sensitive to criticism.
It’s not being able to get of bed let alone out the door.
Depressed teens withdraw, first from family, organized activities like sport, school and then from their friends. It’s gradual.
Depression can cause low energy and lack of concentration. Eating isn’t important, this leads to low energy levels.
There may be poor attendance at school, running late or missing classes, a drop in grades and frustration with schoolwork.
Depressed teens can become addicted to alcohol, drugs, the Internet and even sex.
They may become violent or want to turn that rage inward and self harm. Some even become anorexic.
How the heck can we help depressed teens?
Gently, but swiftly.
+ Don’t give up on your kids, throwing our arms up at the first sign of them rejecting our offers of help isn’t on. Try and try again.
+ Listen without judgement, be respectful, and don’t lecture.
+ Reassure them you are there for them and they are not alone.
+ Acknowledge them and what they’re feeling and let them know they are heard.
+ Keep the lines of communication open. Organize coffee catchups where they can talk or encourage them to join you on a walk occasionally.
+ Get them to a G.P. for a mental health plan.
+ Limit time spent on social media.
+ Ask family and friends to mentor them.
+ Get their school involved.
+ Break daily tasks down into smaller chunks.
+ Get them involved in their own health through cooking, exercise and even essential oils.
There’s much we can do, but first and foremost we need to love the crap outa them. Love them through all the anger, moodiness and hate. Love them harder than you have ever loved them and don’t for one minute give up on them.
Depression and anxiety can suck the life out of a teen but they don’t have to, we can help them. If you need help then reach out to your friends and family (discreetly), use online tools from Headspace, Beyond Blue and visit your G.P.
Our children are our hearts, we need to look after them, nurture them and treat them with care.
This post is personal but like all things I write, I share to help others and I have permission from my family to share this. We all want others to be empowered.