Tag Archives: teen depression

DEPRESSION IN TEENS? PARENTS NEED AN ADDED CARE TEAM

This post suggests if you are dealing with a depressed teen, in addition to professional help, you need to create an added care team to keep you strong.

Connecting to others who have walked the path you are walking keeps you from getting lost in a forest full of dead ends, holes, and cliffs. 

PARENTING TIPS ABOUT CREATING AN ADDED CARE TEAM

You already have the start of such a team in your family, friends, various professionals, and even your teen’s circle of connections.  Step one is to decide which ones you trust. Step two is to let those know you consider them part of your teen’s added care team.  Just saying “Thank you” for being there, I think of you as part of my care team.” is enough.

To complete your team you need to name at least one complaint partner and to find a Parent Advocate.  A complaint partner is someone you can call just to spout off. The best complaint partners never tell you what to do; give a bit of sympathy, but no pity; remind you of your strengths; and keep everything you say confidential. Be sure to ask the person to be your compliant partner and offer to be theirs or to recipricate in some other way.

If you don’t feel comfortable asking a friend support groups offer not general support, but an opportunity to meet potential complaint partners.  As a last resort consider a therapist, but also realize your complaining has to be reserved for your therapy hour and a good therapist will only tolerate so much complaining without holding you accountable for moving toward change.

In addition to a  complaint partner, every parent with a teen in some sort of trouble needs a Parent Advocates.  Finding one is becoming easier had least in the United States. The National  Federation of Families partnered with the USA government to guarantee parents had a say in the treatment plans various professionals made for child.  The NFF’s motto is “Nothing about us without us.”  Most of their advocates are connected to Mental Health Agencies, but other child caring systems have added Parent Advocacy to their services also.

I was fortunate enough to work with a great many parent advocates during my professional career.  One Star Parent Advocate had been a beautician for most of her life and turned Parent Advocate in her sixties.  She was the first parent advocate I hired when my program received a grant that included  funds  for a parent advocate.  It was a new experience for both of us, and she educated me as much as I educated her. She had raised two sons who each struggled with major mental illnesses; one eventually committed suicide. Her heart possessed all the qualities of a healer.  

The best advocates are like  good friends who can hear your story without judging you and who will stand up for you rights when needed.  Most have these the listening skills naturally, the best get some more training; an advocate has to know about the system he or she is working in; and has to know the lingo, goals, and mission of that system.

Advocates working in the mental health system need to have a working understanding of mental illness and how it is treated.  Solid communication, goal setting and negotiating skills are also needed.  The final ingredient is a passion to help but also to be open to learning and supervision so one can be the best possible source of help.

As with all efforts to help another person, the quality of  advocates varies – some are the best thing that happened to a parent, others add to burdens. Good programs can have individual  advocates that harm, and bad programs can have individual advocates who do more for the family than the professional.  How to tell the good from the bad is not so easy, but you will know one when you meet one.

Finally, if you do not live in an area that has added Parent Advocates to their efforts to help, all is not lost, but finding one will be harder.  Again, the place to start might be in a support group.  The need to adovcate for each other could be raised as a group topic. Hopefully, the more experienced parents, would be willing to advocate for the less experienced.

More information about creating an Added Care Team can be found in my book: How to Hold a Successful Family Meeting.  Holding family meetings gives every family member the skills needed to handle all other meetings.

STAY STRONG

Parenting is hard work and contending with a depressed child demands more than good parenting.   You need all the allies you can get. An Added Care Team that includes a parent advocate and a complaint partner eases the path you and your child walk.

More information for parents coping with a moody or depressed teen can be found in my book ‘When Good Kids Get Depressed‘, which is volume 11 of the When Good Kids Do Bad Things series. Volume 1 is free.

IF YOU LIKE THIS POST

I have published fourteen books on parenting. ‘When Good Kids Do Bad Things. A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers‘ is available in print and as an e-book. Shorter ebooks can also be downloaded on specific topics, like lyingcrimerunning awayclothing wars and many other topics. Or you can learn how to run a successful family meeting or help your child with test anxiety. Meanwhile, don’t forget to take care of yourself with ‘Parents Are People Too – An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents‘ or by reading my Emotional Fitness Training blog where you will find free postersdaily exercises and more.

Also, if you think this information will help another, please share it.  Sharing knowledge is a caring act.

Thank you.

Katherine

DISCLAIMER ONE: Although I am a therapist and base my advice on my clinical knowledge and experience, it does not substitute for face-to-face professional help.

DISCLAIMER TWO: FORGIVE MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS FOR I HAVE DYSGRAPHIA.  If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here. Dysgraphia is a not well-known learning disability and means that sometimes my sentence structure is not that easy to follow or I make other errors. Still, most people understand me. All of my books are professionally edited, but not all of my blog posts are.  If this troubles you, feel free to read elsewhere.  If you persevere, you are practicing kindness by lifting my spirits for that means you find what I say helpful and that is one of my missions. Kindness always repays those who spread it.

TALKING ABOUT DEPRESSION? WHO HELPS MOST?

This post suggests if you are dealing with a depressed teen, in addition to professional help, you find him some peers who have walked the road toward suicide.

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Connecting to someone who knows the path you are walking gets you where you are going faster than wandering through the forest alone.

When it comes to combating depression, teens need a professional guide and a fellow traveler, meaning someone who survived teen depression.  The Experience Project offers a number of inspiring depression survival stories.

PARENTING TIP about untrained sources of help

Tip one: I was fortunate enough to work with a great many youth advocates during my professional career.  Read this article  Youth Advocates: What They Do written by a team of youth advocates.  It talks about Wrap Around Services – the best treatment option for depressed youth.

Tip two: As with all efforts to help another person, the quality of youth advocates varies – some are the best thing that happened to a depressed youth, others add to burdens. Good programs can have individual youth advocates that harm, and bad programs can have individual youth advocates who do more for the teen than the professional.  How to tell the good from the bad is not so easy, but working with a competent professional who can check the teen’s progress helps. At the same time, the youth advocate can help check the professional’s competency.

Tip three:  Some of the qualities to look for in a youth advocate include as the article pointed to above suggests: “… a willingness to learn, the ability to relate well to other youth from diverse backgrounds, the capacity to follow through and a willingness to share their own experiences with child-and family-serving systems.”

I would also look for an advocate who has moved beyond blaming parents and who supports competent mental health treatment. I worked with several who could not do so and disrupted treatment.

Tip four: More information for parents coping with a moody or depressed teen can be found in my book ‘When Good Kids Get Depressed‘, which is volume 11 of the When Good Kids Do Bad Things series. Volume 1 is free.

STAY STRONG

Parenting is hard work and contending with a child who is depressed demands more than good parenting.   You need all the allies you can get. A caring and competent youth advocate is one of the most useful.

IF YOU LIKE THIS POST

I have published fourteen books on parenting. ‘When Good Kids Do Bad Things. A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers‘ is available in print and as an e-book. Shorter ebooks can also be downloaded on specific topics, like lyingcrimerunning awayclothing wars and many other topics. Or you can learn how to run a successful family meeting or help your child with test anxiety. Meanwhile, don’t forget to take care of yourself with ‘Parents Are People Too – An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents‘ or by reading my Emotional Fitness Training blog where you will find free postersdaily exercises and more.

Also, if you think this information will help another, please share it.  Sharing knowledge is a caring act.

Thank you.

Katherine

DISCLAIMER ONE: Although I am a therapist and base my advice on my clinical knowledge and experience, it does not substitute for face-to-face professional help.

DISCLAIMER TWO: FORGIVE MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS FOR I HAVE DYSGRAPHIA.  If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here. Dysgraphia is a not well-known learning disability and means that sometimes my sentence structure is not that easy to follow or I make other errors. Still, most people understand me. All of my books are professionally edited, but not all of my blog posts are.  If this troubles you, feel free to read elsewhere.  If you persevere, you are practicing kindness by lifting my spirits for that means you find what I say helpful and that is one of my missions. Kindness always repays those who spread it.

THE DEADILEST DEPRESSIONS

This is not an upbeat, make you happy post  for it is about the teens that give up the fight. Depression kills not all, but too many. Fred was one.

rope

He was probably the brightest kid to live with us as a foster child. Tall for his age, handsome, black, half French and half American, with parents who could give him everything, but had finally given up on him.  Once he came to live with us, I quickly figured out why, not that I approved. You don’t give up on your kids.  Maybe you can’t live with them, but you keep on loving them, you stay in touch, you call, you write letters, you give small gifts of love, you hold out hope for a time when life will get better.  That said, I understood and living with a child who is mentally ill is never easy, and wears out a good many parents .

Fred was not an easy boy to like.  He was arrogant and quarrelsome.  He thrived on engaging you in conversations designed to prove how smart he was and how dumb you were — a master of what I call the Gotcha Wars. But I was used to kids like that.  Moreover, because he was so bright, it was often almost fun to argue with him.  Almost, for Fred also oozed sadness that made it difficult being with him.

I have met less than a dozen people whose depression spread out from them like a black plague injecting itself into my body and soul.   I have known three of those people on a long-term basis, two I am still in touch.  These soldier on through ever-present depression with great courage.   Fred did not. In his mid twenties he hung himself. 

PARENT ADVICE about depression

Here is a quick list of the factors that increase the burden on depressed kids and as in Fred’s case can lead to  death either in their teens or later.

  1. Total abandonment by parents
  2. Brain based and genetically pre-disposition to depression
  3. Other brain based mental disorders – ask anyone who is treating a child of yours about co-occuring mental health conditions.  
  4. Social isolation, difficulty getting along with peers, rejected by peers, bullied or bullying
  5. Acting out. Acting out in various forms eases depression.  Many suicides in prison occur because acting out is prevented and the depression takes over.
  6. Drinking, drugging, and other addictive behaviors
  7. Unrealistic expectations combined with failed treatment efforts.

Fred had been abandoned by his parents, his father also suffered from depression; Fred would eventually be diagnosed with a personality disorder, he was argumentative, his peers rejected him, he got into drinking, he expected his brightness to ultimately lead to happiness and success, it didn’t.

PARENTING TIP

Tip one: The more risk factors, the more a parent should worry.

Tip two:  Competent psychiatric care is not enough. Family support, addiction treatment, finding friends and a satisfying life path  must be part of the mix.

Tip three: Parents need what I call and added care team.  The professionals treating your child are part of that team.  But every  parent needs someone there for them, someone who they can turn to.  Often support groups provide such a person.

Tip four: More information for parents coping with a moody or depressed teen can be found in my book ‘When Good Kids Get Depressed‘, which is volume 11 of the When Good Kids Do Bad Things series. Volume 1 is free.

STAY STRONG

Parenting is hard work and contending with a child who is depressed demands more than good parenting.   Hopefully, the above tips and resources will help you and your child survive  this hard time.

IF YOU LIKED THIS POST

I have published fourteen books on parenting. ‘When Good Kids Do Bad Things. A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers‘ is available in print and as an e-book. Shorter ebooks can also be downloaded on specific topics, like lyingcrimerunning awayclothing wars and many other topics. Or you can learn how to run a successful family meeting or help your child with test anxiety. Meanwhile, don’t forget to take care of yourself with ‘Parents Are People Too – An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents‘ or by reading my Emotional Fitness Training blog where you will find free postersdaily exercises and more.

Also, if you think this information will help another, please share it.  Sharing knowledge is a caring act.

Thank you.

Katherine

DISCLAIMER ONE: Although I am a therapist and base my advice on my clinical knowledge and experience, it does not substitute for face-to-face professional help.

DISCLAIMER TWO: FORGIVE MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS FOR I HAVE DYSGRAPHIA.  If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here. Dysgraphia is a not well-known learning disability and means that sometimes my sentence structure is not that easy to follow or I make other errors. Still, most people understand me. All of my books are professionally edited, but not all of my blog posts are.  If this troubles you, feel free to read elsewhere.  If you persevere, you are practicing kindness by lifting my spirits for that means you find what I say helpful and that is one of my missions. Kindness always repays those who spread it.

A DEPRESSION TEST

This post offers a quick, not tested, but good first step for parents worried about an unhappy teen.  Start with this poster:

hAPPINESS

PARENT ADVICE about depression

How many of the Happiness Rules listed above do you follow?  Probably not all.  That is why forgiving self is one of the rules.  Minimally, doing what has to be done despite mad, bad or sad feelings is what most of us manage to do.  Not so when caught in the grips of depression.

Depression also destroys respect for self and others, the ability to laugh and play, and to forgive life, others, and ourselves.

PARENTING TIP

The  pushing of children to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” or “Be All You Can Be” code words for “Be a Star,” need reality checking.  The poster  focuses on reality based happiness.

I suggest all parents think about discussing the Happiness Rules at a formal or informal family meetings.  Start by  posting the rules on the refrigerator door. Then  have a dinner time discussion about which one is easiest for various family members to follow.  

With a teen showing signs of depression, use the poster to start a discussion about  how bad life feels at the moment.  A teen who can’t discuss the rules is a teen in trouble and you need to talk to a professional about how to move forward.

parent advice WARNING

A few teens who commit suicide seem, claim to be happy, and might even be happy.  These are often kids who have lots going for them and are stars.  If  and when they fall or fail, they don’t know how to deal.  Think of some of the big name stars who while appearing to have it all, end up committing suicide.

What can you do?  The happiness rules provide a shield for those facing loss and failure.  That is why forgiveness of life is one of the rules.  That is why these or similar rules need to be talked about just as much as safe sex or safe driving rules are discussed.

If your child is a star, applaud that, but also applaud louder starring in life by respecting others, being kind , sharing and caring.  Make those the values that matter most.

More information for parents coping with a moody or depressed teen can be found in my book ‘When Good Kids Get Depressed‘, which is volume 11 of the When Good Kids Do Bad Things series. Volume 1 is free.

STAY STRONG

Parenting is hard work and contending with a child who is depressed demands more than good parenting.   Hopefully, the above tips and resources will help you and your child survive  this hard time.

IF YOU LIKED THIS POST

I have published fourteen books on parenting. ‘When Good Kids Do Bad Things. A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers‘ is available in print and as an e-book. Shorter ebooks can also be downloaded on specific topics, like lyingcrimerunning awayclothing wars and many other topics. Or you can learn how to run a successful family meeting or help your child with test anxiety. Meanwhile, don’t forget to take care of yourself with ‘Parents Are People Too – An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents‘ or by reading my Emotional Fitness Training blog where you will find free postersdaily exercises and more.

Also, if you think this information will help another, please share it.  Sharing knowledge is a caring act.

Thank you.

Katherine

DISCLAIMER ONE: Although I am a therapist and base my advice on my clinical knowledge and experience, it does not substitute for face-to-face professional help.

DISCLAIMER TWO: FORGIVE MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS FOR I HAVE DYSGRAPHIA.  If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here. Dysgraphia is a not well-known learning disability and means that sometimes my sentence structure is not that easy to follow or I make other errors. Still, most people understand me. All of my books are professionally edited, but not all of my blog posts are.  If this troubles you, feel free to read elsewhere.  If you persevere, you are practicing kindness by lifting my spirits for that means you find what I say helpful and that is one of my missions. Kindness always repays those who spread it.