Tag Archives: teenage depression test

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.

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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.

WHEN GOOD KIDS GET DEPRESSED

All teens are all moody and sad. Right? Wrong.  Most are content with their lives, but for one in eight they’ll become so unhappy life does not always seem worth living.

Sad and suicidal?

Just sad or suicidal?
IMAGE FROM: Psych Central News

Are you reading this because you are worried about a teen you love?  Good for you.  Better to worry than to grieve.  Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 24 and the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14.

PARENT ADVICE ABOUT DEPRESSION IN TEENS

Children are not supposed to die before their parents.  A child’s death is a deeply wounding life-blow and for most the wound never fully heals.  To me the only worse life-blow would be a child’s death by suicide.  So I feel strongly parents need to know a few things about depression and suicide.

Everyone has ups and downs.  As the singer Neil Diamond tells it, everyone has a Song Sung Blue.  His cure?  Sing it out.  When the blues can’t be sung away, most likely a depression related mood disorder is operating.

A Great British Statemen suffered from a clinical depression,  he once remarked, “I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.”

Abraham Lincoln also suffered from depression. He is quoted as saying long before he became President and he had to deal with a civil war, “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.”

He did get better from this particular bout with depression, but was prone most of his life to bouts of blackness.

PARENT ADVICE ABOUT DEPRESSION

Tip one:  Depression seems to have a genetic basis so if a family member suffers from depression, has made suicidal gestures, or committed suicide, worry, but also do more than worry—learn about depression and teens, not just here but by some web searching.

Tip two:  Learn about the major symptoms of depression and how these vary according to age and stage: Here are the common ways depression manifests developmentally.

  • Ages one to three common symptoms are: failure to thrive, sleep problems and feeding problems, tantrums, and lack of playfulness.
  • From three to five a depressed child may be accident prone or suffer  from phobias. Depressed children may be excessively guilty or full of self reproaches.
  • From age six to eight somatic complaints, aggressive behaviors, and low self esteem are the chief markers.
  • From nine to twelve, depressed youth day dream, have morbid thoughts, and blame themselves for problems.
  • Adolescents are expected to be moody and depressed and therefore are often under diagnosed or misdiagnosed. Adolescent symptoms resemble adult symptoms and include: appetite loss, a sense of hopelessness, oversleeping, and suicidal thoughts.

Tip three: Think about more than just  symptoms.  Think about severity, domain, and duration. Use a rating scale to think about severity. Suicidal threats, gestures, or serious attempts are all a ten in severity. Nine would be a symptom that disrupts not just the  teen’s life, but yours the family’s life and across all domains, meaning everywhere the kid goes. Eight the disruption of symptoms is only within the family but almost every day. Seven, the disruption is weekly. Six, disruption is every two weeks. Five no disruption. Below five be grateful. Get help if the severity scale is at a six or above. This is not a research based scale, just a way to get you thinking.

Tip three: Get help if your heart and head agree you need help.  Get help if your heart and head cannot agree.

Let me explain that one. My mental health credentials apply here.  I directed mobile mental health crisis teams serving children and teens.  My expertize was eventually recognized and I was asked to train all of NY city’s mobile mental health crisis team in deciding whether to leave a child at home or transport him to an emergency room for admission to a mental health unit.  My strategy as both a foster parent and a clinician trying to keep depressed children and teens was to listen to both my heart or my gut feelings and my head or my clinical knowledge. Only if two agreed I would know how to act.

Tip four:  Even if my heart and head say professional help is not needed, but my worrying about a child kept me awake at night, I sought a higher level expert’s advice. Do the same –  make an appointment to discuss your concerns, not with your child’s pediatrician or the family doctor, but with a board certified child psychiatrist.

Tip five: An often missed suicidal child is one called a Class A suicide.  This is the child who seems to have everything going for her.  When you have everything and still find depression eating at your heart, you can be pushed over the edge for one of two theories.

One says that a life having every thing and still struggling with blackness makes the blackness darker.  The second theory says, such a child has never had to struggle with loss, challenge, or pain; he or she, therefore is not able to deal with pain if it comes calling.  Probable both are at work.

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 ebook. 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.

DISCLAIMER: 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.