My Teen Seems So Unmotivated—What Do I Do?

It can be frustrating to look at your teen and see all their potential stuck behind an unmotivated exterior. You’re positive that if they just applied themselves more, they’d have the world wrapped around their finger.

The hard thing is that we all see the world differently, so as teenagers come into their own sense of self, they start redefining their priorities. It might be time for a check-in to see just what your teen needs to get that pep back in their step.

Before Anything, Consider Their Independence

Remember, the older your kid gets, the more independence they will crave, earn, and implement. Teenagers rely on their parents for far less than they did as children, and for the first time, they may like feeling in full control of themselves.

Just because your teen isn’t motivated to do what you want them to do, doesn’t mean they’re not motivated to do anything. They could be motivated to resist you—and if they are, it sounds like it’s working!

Instead of disrespecting their independence by running a house based on demands and shame, try to get into their head to understand how they uniquely self-motivate.

Reward the Good More Than You Criticize the Bad

Maybe you care about your teen doing well in school so they can consider college down the road, but they don’t. Ask yourself (or them): What do they care about?

If they have a favorite band, maybe you can look up tour dates and barter tickets in exchange for them turning in 80% of their homework this semester. Maybe every time they get a B or higher on a test, you buy them a new video game or take them out for their favorite dinner. Show them it’s something worth celebrating by literally celebrating it in a meaningful way.

Be thoughtful and consistent about how you dole out consequences.

Maybe on the days they forget to do their chores, they don’t get social time with friends or their phone for the night. You can even let them experience consequences that come naturally—for example, if they don’t do their laundry, they go to school in wrinkled clothes. Some teens respond better to more logical consequences like these.

Avoid Thinking of Them as “Lazy”

“Lazy” is a myth.

The relief of overcoming a challenge or the joy of accomplishing a goal is a uniquely human experience. We all crave it, we just all have different definitions of personal challenges and goals.

Labeling your teen as inherently “lazy” will only lead to them becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. They will minimize darker emotions as carelessness and exhaustion as indifference. Get to the root of what’s getting in your teen’s way—because it is not a personality flaw.

Give Them Space to Have Bad Days

Sometimes, we as parents only give our children two options:

  1. Try and fail.
  2. Try, succeed, then desperately work to succeed again.

It puts teenagers between a rock and a hard place, so sometimes they choose to opt out entirely and not try. They may crave their own betterment, but fear the pain of finding out they can’t have it. As a result, they avoid the process altogether.

Show them a little empathy.

Consider saying, “You’ve seemed pretty down lately. I know you’re not a lazy person, so I’m guessing something must’ve happened. I’m here to talk through it with you if you need to get out of your head.”

They may immediately break down crying or they may roll their eyes and say you’re crazy… Then they may come back two days later after all the stress caught up to them and they could identify it themselves.

Life gets all of us down sometimes. To make sure your teen has someone to talk to about it, consider having them work with a counselor like myself.

Schedule their first appointment today.

5 Tips for Successful Co-Parenting

You’re finally free from the pain of disappearing date nights. Free from the exhaustion of climbing into bed after an argument. Free from the ex who weighed you down more than they lifted you up.

While you can enjoy the weightlessness of no longer loving them, you still have a responsibility to co-parent with them. Co-parenting isn’t a new concept, as the US has a 50% divorce rate. (41% for first-time marriages.)

Do it well by learning five tips from a therapist on successful co-parenting.

1. Treat your partner with respect.

Whether you’re speaking directly to them or speaking about them to your child, show your partner respect. (And ask that they do the same for you!)

Avoid bad-mouthing each other in front of your child, and teach your child that you don’t want to hear it, either. It might be funny when they first roast your ex, but encouraging them will only hurt your child in the long run. It deters them from building a healthy relationship with half of the most important support system they have.

Instead, speak on your partner’s strengths whenever you have the opportunity. Studies show that exhibiting gratitude daily improves our overall wellbeing, and it can help you have more positive interactions together.

For example, if you can’t help your child with their homework, admit to them, “I know, I’m not the best at explaining things. Mommy’s great at this stuff!”

2. Work to agree on a consistent routine.

Establishing a predictable routine for ourselves is one of the biggest things we can do for our mental health. For kids, it’s imperative as they’re still developing their sense of self-esteem. Knowing what the “next move” is makes kids feel safe and secure at home.

Work to agree with your partner on things like meal times, bed times, household responsibilities, and behavioral expectations. That way, both houses can feel like one consistent home.

3. Keep your child in focus, not your ex.

By focusing on the healthy development of your child, you should naturally want to stick to routine and rules decided by both parents. If you’re trying to stick it to your ex or “win” at being the favorite parent, you may ease up on these rules.

If you enter the day feeling insecure about your parent-child relationship, you may choose to see a new movie instead of working on homework together. This threatens your child’s routine and adds friction to an already stressful relationship with your ex.

Exposing children to parental conflict introduces feelings of vulnerability, as if their whole family system will break down and leave them behind. Don’t be the reason your child struggles to feel confident in their own skin.

4. Deal with parental guilt and frustration outside of the home.

Feeling like you’re missing out on your child’s life is disheartening, but try not to act on feelings of guilt. Children already struggle with impulse control, so if you overspend to give them quick spurts of excitement, it will bite back as an overgrown ego in your child and a lack of empathy for others.

Instead, allow yourself to be boring around your kid. Let them have perfectly ordinary days at home with their perfectly ordinary parents.

5. Keep an open dialogue.

Whether it’s face-to-face, over text, or through an online scheduling service, keep your ex updated about what’s going on. (Don’t make your child “pass notes” to the other parent.)

If it helps, start viewing your ex as a coworker. Communicate with them in professional and emotionally neutral or pleasant ways.

Instead of pointing fingers, stick to “I” statements when your ex’s behavior becomes bothersome. “I noticed Jack was more aggressive than usual when he came home this week. What kinds of stress-relieving activities should we teach him?”

Still, communicating regularly with someone who has broken your trust can be stressful. Instead of taking it out on them—or worse, you kid—work with a therapist.

Schedule your first appointment today.

Are There Benefits if Teens Wait to Make College Decisions?

As parents, we want to set our kids up for a lifetime of success. The job gets tricky when they turn 18, become independent, and start making decisions that have long-term consequences for the first time.

Even though they are legally adults, their prefrontal cortex will not fully develop until age 25. This means teens are more likely to make emotionally backed decisions instead of rationally backed ones. They may only decide to go to college because “everyone else is doing it”, or they may push back because the idea of sitting in a classroom for another four years feels torturous.

While college can be a life-changing experience for many, those changes are not always good. That is why it is important to consider the benefits of waiting before you push your child down the college route.

The Argument for a Gap Year

Taking a gap year between high school and college gives students the chance to recover from burnout and learn who they are outside of the classroom. (Especially for students who took AP and honors courses.) For non-academically motivated students, a year of work allows them to build confidence and better reputations with their supervisors than they did with their teachers.

Many educators agree that students who take a year off come back feeling refreshed and matured, with a clearer vision of their future than before. Of course, this all depends on how valuable their gap year was.

To gain critical “real world” experience, young adults should travel, work a job that interests them, or volunteer somewhere inspiring.

How to Know If It Is a Good Idea to Wait

If your child’s SAT/ACT score is significantly higher than their grades, that could be a sign they are intellectually capable enough, but not disciplined enough, to take college seriously. That is okay! Some people are simply not classroom-motivated.

Let them have a year off to find work that inspires them. That way, when they go to college, they go to develop the skills they are genuinely passionate about.

Just like how someone can underutilize a gap year, they can also underutilize one year in college. (And college costs significantly more than taking a year off.) Building your GPA back up after one year is tough, especially if you are looking to transfer or apply to a program that requires a good GPA.

For some people, it is better to lower the stakes as you go—work, go to community college, then transfer to a four-year university. For some students, starting with a four-year university provides a lot of unnecessary pressure and anxiety that can affect their performance and confidence.

If all they face in school is disappointment, they may not make the best use of their newfound independence. This can lead to serious depression, coping with alcohol and drugs, skipping classes, or flunking out.

The Risks of Waiting to Go to College

If your child chooses to work after graduation, they risk the chance of putting off college so long that they never actually go.

Studies show they could miss out on as much as $800,000 over the course of their lives compared to the salaries of college grads. (However, some 18-year-olds might prefer avoiding student loan debt while they are young and still learning financial literacy.)

College today has become sort of a cultural expectation for young adults. As parents, you want to help your child decide what is best for their individual future. That means making yourself a safe space for them to open up, discuss long-term consequences of their actions, and move forward with confidence.

What is the best way to do this? Therapy! I am happy to work with you and your child so they have the tools they need to make big decisions like these with confidence. Ready to get started? Schedule an appointment with us today.

4 Signs Your Teen May Be Struggling with Their Mental Health

It can be scary to see your kid turn into someone quieter or more agitated than they used to be. You can do all the right things as a parent and your child can still struggle with their mental health. (Especially when living through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.)

According to Mental Health America, in March 2020, a whopping 83% of teens aged 11 to 17 years old tested positive or at-risk for anxiety. Even more—91%—tested positive or at-risk for depression.

While these stats are from when the pandemic started, it’s safe to assume a lot of these students are still facing the same issues. Here are 4 signs your teen may be struggling with their mental health.

1. Their mood is frequently agitated, angry, or somber.

Depression shows in different ways for different people. For some, it appears as excessive crying because of intense feelings of hopelessness. For others, it appears as a hot temper or constant irritability.

Remember that depression pairs with feelings of worthlessness, so be gentle with advice and criticism for your teen at this time. Depressed teens can be extremely sensitive to being told they failed in some way, especially those who tend to overachieve in school.

Your teen may also make comments ridiculing their own intelligence or appearance, signaling their struggle with low self-esteem, a common symptom of depression.

2. They lost interest in previously adored activities.

If your teen plays sports or practices a skill, pay attention to how much enjoyment they’re deriving from it now. Maybe they used to jog lightly on the field before, but now they can only manage to stand and stare, waiting for the ball. Or the sound of music would constantly drift from their bedroom, but now the house has become eerily silent.

If your teen is withdrawing from activities and friends to spend more time alone than they were before, they could be struggling with depression. When isolated, the easiest way for them to worsen their depression is becoming addicted to their phone.

While the online world may feel like an escape from their problems, research shows that excessive smartphone and internet use increases feelings of isolation, leading to more depression.

3. Their sleeping and eating patterns have suddenly changed.

Has your teen been more difficult to wake up in the mornings than usual? Do you hear them running downstairs for a snack at 2 a.m.? Feeling a desire to sleep significantly more or less is a symptom of depression, as it warps our levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

They may also experience changes in diet, choosing to binge eat high-fat foods or losing their appetite completely. This could relate to their loss of interest in things that used to bring them joy, or it could be because unexplained nausea or stomach pain is deterring them from eating.

4. They engage in risky behaviors.

High-risk behaviors are heavily correlated with depression for a couple reasons. One, people with depression tend to value their lives less, and two, they’re desperate to cope with the pain.

Some people prefer to numb out thoughts of anger and shame with drugs and alcohol. Others feel they aren’t worthy of happiness or good health, so they choose to self-harm as a cry for help. Some turn to unprotected sex as a means of distraction, neglecting to consider STDs or possible pregnancies before jumping into it. And if your teen is old enough to drive, they might consider racing down side roads recklessly for an adrenaline boost.

It’s important to have open, empathetic conversations with your children about their mental health.

If you’ve been noticing any of these symptoms or cries for help, call our office to schedule an appointment today. Because no one is too young to prioritize their mental health.

New Beginnings: How New Parents Can Cope with the Stress Babies Bring to Partnerships

Babies can be stressful. They’ll pull at your heartstrings in ways you’ve never felt before and introduce you to a new meaning of life itself. At the same, you could probably use another hour of sleep today. (Or two.)

Suddenly your attention diverts to this tiny, screaming bundle of joy. Sometimes it feels like you only have energy left to scream yourself.

Don’t panic—eventually your baby bird will grow wings of its own and require less constant attention, but until then, it takes hard work and intention from both partners to keep that nest full of love and support.

Let’s talk about how new parents can cope with the stress babies bring to partnerships.

Choosing Each Other 

What used to be romantic compliments in passing now sound more like reminders and demands. When 90% of your conversation becomes dominated by transactional statements, you start seeing your partner as a cog in the family machine instead of the person you fell in love with.

Newborns are demanding. Without time and energy on your side, how can you put any work into the relationship?

After the first six weeks with your child, give yourself permission to check in with your partner. Spending time together however you can will go a long way. It doesn’t have to be a fabulous steak dinner; it can be as simple as solving a crossword puzzle together or watching a TV show after the baby is asleep. Eat breakfast or dinner together or share a short walk around the block.

Prioritize each other with intention.

Finding Excitement in the Little Things 

It’s totally okay (and almost necessary, even) to mourn the loss of who you were before the baby arrived.

Some couples experience this fear that their relationship isn’t what they thought it was without the adventure and fun of pre-baby life. That’s not true.

You can keep the fun in your relationship by choosing small, manageable tactics. Try new takeout options for dinner or rent a movie from home with fresh microwaved popcorn.

The exciting outings you enjoyed before now require more work and less spontaneity. You need a stroller, extra diapers, bottles, toys to calm your baby—the list goes on. Sometimes it helps to acknowledge the truth: you’re an adult with a long list of responsibilities, and that requires some planning.

You and your partner are two adults who chose each other to make life more beautiful. Continue to choose each other by making space, keeping a strict schedule, and connecting in simple, creative ways.

Change What You Can, Accept What You Can’t

You’re at the very beginning of your parenting journey together, and there’s going to be disagreements along the way. Remember that you’re co-parenting, so let your partner parent.

If your partner enjoys playing with the baby while changing their diaper, let them. Maybe you think it’s a waste of time and it would be more efficient to change it quickly and get on with it, but it’s best not to micromanage when your partner is appropriately carrying their weight.

When things come up that you simply can’t stand, bring it up and compromise. But when you feel the need to course-correct, pause and ask yourself, “How big of a difference would it actually make if I say this right now?” If the difference is small, let it go. If it’s big, discuss with your partner.

Sometimes you’ll agree to disagree, sometimes you’ll find harmonious compromise, and sometimes you’ll pick one person’s idea over the other’s. Be prepared for anything and stay open-minded. Remember, you’re on the same team.

If the light at the end of the newborn baby tunnel seems farther away than you’d like, consider seeking professional help with one of our couples counselors. We can create a game plan that works for your family.

4 Tips to Help Teens Adjust as They Return to School

The past year and some change has been difficult for people worldwide. For many teens, it was the first time in their lives they didn’t have to wake up and take the bus to school.

While you might think they’d be happy about that, the change was marked with fear and uncertainty. They were unable to see their friends everyday like before. Their extracurriculars took a hit. They may have experienced a spike in anxiety or depression.

However, humans are remarkably adaptable. And as it’s time to return to onsite learning, there are ways you can help ease the transition for your teen.

1. Establish Routine

One of the most important aspects of getting back into the old swing of things is establishing a routine. Get into this routine as soon as possible.

For instance, your teen may have been staying up late or sleeping in with remote learning. For many teens, this is a hard pattern to break. So, encourage them to go to bed at a regular time. You can also encourage them to eat breakfast. Not only is it fuel for their body, but it can be a positive start to their day.

You can also help them get into a better routine of doing their homework in the afternoon or evening so they have time to relax before bed. Other aspects of this routine can include chores or family time.

2. Empathize and Reassure

Your teen may be anxious to return to onsite learning with COVID-19 still looming. One way you can help ease their anxiety is by providing reassurance and confidence in the decision for in-person classes. After all, you’re living through the pandemic as well and this shared experience allows you to empathize with them.

Although they may be in a life stage where they’re discovering their independence, your teen still looks to you for comfort and support. If they are worried about seeing their peers again, remind them they haven’t lost their social skills overnight.

Emotional validation is key. Be sure to listen to them without interrupting when they express their fears or struggles.

3. Highlight Self Care

While it’s important to encourage your teen to get into a routine and reassure them, it’s also important to remember that this won’t be a magic fix. There will still likely be some anxiety about it all.

That’s why it’s also important to encourage self care as a part of your teen’s routine. Taking care of their emotional and physical needs during a stressful time will go a long way in helping them cope. You can:

  • Encourage them to take walks outside or try a new activity like yoga.
  • Encourage them to keep up with favorite hobbies.
  • Make sure they’re eating and sleeping well.
  • Allow them time to connect with others socially, either on the phone or socially distanced.
  • Take breaks from watching the news or scrolling through social media.

4. Celebrate the Positives

During stressful times, it helps to celebrate the positive things happening in life. Is there anything your teen is looking forward to about the return to school? Perhaps they’re excited to see a favorite teacher or a good friend. Maybe they did well on a quiz they were nervous about. Or it might excite them to partake in extracurriculars again.

Ask them what the best part of their day was when they get home. Even if it’s something small, celebrating it creates a positive track for the next day.

A teenager’s life is full of change and transition, pandemic excluded. With the health crisis on top of it, it’s understandable that they might be anxious about returning to school. For many, it has been a stressful and traumatic year. But you can help your teen make the most of returning to onsite learning and set them up for success.

Need extra support? Reach out today so we can help get you on a positive path and create healthy coping skills.

Teen Depression: The What’s, Why’s, and How’s

Teen Depression information

Every year, the number of teenagers suffering from mild to severe cases of depression continues to escalate. Statistics reveal that 20% of teenagers experience depression before adulthood, and only 30% of the total number of depressed teens get proper treatment. After a significant decline during the 1990s, many psychologists believe that the primary factors that lead to teen depression are pressures from school or home environment, lifestyle, as well as drugs and alcohol.

What Is Teen Depression?

It is crucial to understand that teen depression is more than the ordinary moodiness that your child manifests every now and then. Teen depression is considered a serious health condition that influences and impacts every aspect of or her young life, such as:

  • personal life
  • school life
  • family life
  • social life
  • Work (if applicable)

Depression among teenagers is similar to adult depression as it involves emotional and mental disorders. However, the signs and symptoms in teenagers manifest differently due to the level of hormonal changes, physical body changes, and peer pressure.
Depressed people, including teens, tend to view the world and environment in a negative light. They often feel unloved, worthless, and highly critical of themselves. Most often, minor problems can overwhelm them. The condition will interfere with their regular routine, change their behavior, and lead to suicidal thoughts.
When depression sets in, teenagers tend to isolate themselves from friends, family, and society. It also results in chronic fatigue, insomnia, headaches, irritability, mood swings, and loss of appetite.
As a parent, it is essential to remember that teenage depression is not a growth phase. It is real and can be fatal in the absence of professional treatment, proper management, and the support of loved ones. If not treated immediately, it can affect their adult lives.

What Causes Teen Depression?

While there is no single knowledge about the real reason why young people experience depression, multiple factors can trigger it. It can be caused by a mix of psychological, biological, and social factors that range from growth hormones to identity crises.
Now, more than ever, young people are more pressured and stressed compared to previous generations. While modern technology brings convenience, it weakens the face-to-face interactions and activities of the family. It results in getting less physical exercise, less sunshine, and less social or community involvement.
Other factors contributing to chronic stress are an unhealthy diet, environmental toxins, a busy lifestyle, and too much exposure to electronic gadgets. A stressful home or neighborhood environment, violence, and poverty also lead to depressive behavior.

Emotionally unprepared

By nature, teens are not emotionally ready to handle the circumstances surrounding significant changes or challenges. When faced with emotionally draining situations like abuse, the divorce of parents, or learning disabilities that affect school performance, a lot of teens tend to withdraw themselves or become rebellious. While a lot of teens can survive the ordeal of the situations, the effects impact their views in life.

Brain differences

Several studies show that the structural component of the adolescent brain differs from the brain of an adult. The level of neurotransmitters in the teens’ brains and the hormonal differences contribute to the development of depression. Neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine play a pivotal role in mood and behavior regulation. Reducing levels of neurotransmitters can trigger depressive behavior and can lead to depression.

Inherited traits

Depression can be hereditary because of its biological component. If your family has a history of depression, there is a great possibility that your child may suffer from this disorder when triggered by a situation or circumstance.

Early childhood trauma

Any type of traumatic life event can leave the child emotionally scarred, causing a long-lasting impression that leads to fear, insecurity, restlessness, and hopelessness. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuses are the most common reasons that develop teen depression.

Learned patterns of pessimistic views

Teens with parents who are negative thinkers are more likely to develop depression. The lack of positive role models to teach them to face problems squarely and think positively to overcome situations make them incapable of handling them well.

Why Your Teenage Child Is at Risk

Certain factors contribute to teen depression. As a parent, you need to be more observant and knowledgeable about this medical disorder to ensure that your child is not at risk.
Here are some of the known facts and factors that contribute to the development of depression among teens:

  • Neglected and abused teens
  • More female teens suffer from depression than male teens
  • Teens who went through traumatic experiences or disruptions at home like family crises, death, or divorce of parents
  • Adolescents with chronic physical conditions or illnesses
  • Anxiety, ADHD, learning disorders, anxiety, and other mental health issues
  • Teens with substance abuse or mental problems that are not treated properly
  • Young people whose family has a history of mental illness or depression
  • Having difficulty in acknowledging their sexual orientation (whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, or asexual)
  • Lack of emotional and social support
  • Living in an unsafe, impoverished, or violent household/environment
  • Bullied by peers
  • Trouble in adjusting socially
  • Academic problems
  • Too much exposure to social media
  • Smartphone or game addiction to escape problems

How Would You Know if Your Teenage Child Is Experiencing Depression?

During the adolescence period, it is normal for teens to experience intermittent changes in moods and emotions. These happen because of hormonal changes, causing them to be sad or moody. The emotional episodes can last up to several days, affecting their normal sleep and eating routine, concentration, and productivity level.
While moodiness or sadness can be part of the early manifestation of teenage depression, knowing how to tell the difference is vital. Depression is far beyond the usual swings of emotions, blues, or acting out. It is a strong feeling of despair, melancholy, hopelessness, anger, or discouragement that can destroy the essence of the youngster’s personality. Rebelliousness and unhealthy attitudes can be indications of this disorder. Some ‘act out’ in their attempt to manage or cope with the pain or emptiness that they are experiencing.
As a parent, differentiating normal growing pains from symptoms of depression can be difficult. During this journey of awareness and seeking enlightenment, your unconditional love, support, and guidance can help your teenage child get back their lives on track.
You need to start observing and taking notes of the following:

  • How long the behavior or emotion lasts? If your child’s sadness or overly-tired behavior lasts for over two weeks, it can be depression.
  • How strong are the emotions? It is crucial to observe if the overwhelming emotions come and go or are present all the time for as long as you or your child remember.
  • How big is the impact? You need to gauge the effects of the behavior or emotion on his/her physical health and well-being, relationships, school works, and daily activities.

Taking these factors into consideration will help you intervene and help your teenage child fight depression and prevent long-term consequences. Early intervention and treatment of the symptoms of teenage depression are important to help his/her handle challenges and problems.

What Are the Warning Signs and Symptoms of Teenage Depression?

Knowing how to spot the early signs of depression is important. Here are some of the most common physical, emotional, behavioral, and mental symptoms to watch out for:

Physical symptoms

  • low energy
  • lethargy
  • unmotivated
  • sluggishness or less active in physical activities
  • sudden change in weight and eating appetite
  • sleeping troubles which include oversleeping, insomnia, or staying in bed longer
  • unexplained or vague headaches or stomach aches
  • not caring about his/her physical appearance

Behavioral and emotional symptoms

  • disinterest in activities that he/she enjoyed doing in the past (hobbies, sports, parties)
  • irritability, moodiness, sadness, or tearful episodes while saying she/he feels numb or empty
  • persistent thinking of negative things, including suicidal thoughts, death, or hurting oneself, so watch out when your child starts saying ‘I can’t do it anymore’ or ‘I want to die
  • a sudden decision to stop going to social events or seeing friends
  • angry outbursts that are uncalled for
  • low self-esteem
  • spending more time alone
  • running away from home
  • panic and anxiety
  • persistent restlessness that leads to acting out or fidgeting
  • self-mutilation
  • feeling guilty and worthless
  • sensitivity to criticism
  • nothing gives him/her true pleasure or fun
  • everything and anything can make him/her cry all of a sudden
  • exhibiting criminal behaviors like shoplifting or DUI
  • apathy
  • irresponsible behaviors
  • compulsive overeating or loss of interest in eating
  • promiscuous sexual engagement

Thinking (mental) symptoms

  • trouble in concentrating, focusing, or organizing
  • forgetfulness and trouble in remembering details or information
  • difficulty in making sound decisions
  • problems in school (not paying attention during classes, low grades, getting into trouble)
  • pessimistic views about life and the world

Why Is it Important to Recognize the Early Symptoms of Teenage Depression?

Often, teens do not realize that they are depressed. What they know is that self-criticism is a normal reaction when they see themselves as a loser, a quitter, a failure, or a bad student.
Their misbehavior can be seen as just having a bad attitude or a bad day. Sometimes, people around the teen think that she/he is not putting enough effort or not trying hard to succeed. Because of this impression, your child tends to keep his/her distance and stop communicating. The thought of ‘Why should I bother?’ leads to skipping classes or running away.
Underlying problems can intensify the teen’s inner pain or feeling of not being worthy. Those who are suffering from eating disorders, harming themselves, or going through extreme mood changes are attempting to cope with unresolved emotional problems that trigger their depression. The only way to treat the other issues is to treat the symptoms of teen depression.

How to Help Your Teenage Child Overcome Depression?

Teen depression does not go away on its own but requires the professional intervention of a health professional. It is vital to show your child that you are with him/her every step away. It is also best to seek guidance to help you deal with the problem effectively. Knowing what to do is essential to the resolution of teenage depression.
You may consider visiting the following people/institutions to enlighten you about mental health issues.

  • Your family doctor or GP
  • School counselor
  • Psychologist or psychiatrist
  • Local mental health services
  • Local community health centers

Armed with knowledge and awareness of teen depression, it is crucial to act immediately. Teen depression can be very damaging, so don’t wait until the symptoms are worse. Addressing the problem is the key to helping your child manage depression.
Your teenage child will not seek help by their own volition but needs your help to get treatment. However, it is not easy to talk about your concerns. Expect at some point that she/he will deny that something is wrong and refuse to get treatment. During this crucial moment, it is necessary to be firm about your decision and show some tough love.

  • Encourage your teen to talk about his/her feelings and thoughts or share what he/she is going through.
  • Avoid asking a lot of questions because some teens do not like being patronized or cornered.
  • Listen with empathy, resisting the urge to lecture, pass judgment, or criticize.
  • Make him/her feel that you are there to listen and support unconditionally.
  • When your child shuts you up or avoids discussion, do not give up easily. You need to understand that sharing emotions can be very tough and painful. It is not easy to express what he/he is feeling, so respect his/her comfort level but gently encourage the child to open up when he/she is ready.·
  • Acknowledge the validity of your child’s feelings, fears, and thoughts. Avoid downplaying the emotions, no matter how irrational or silly they are. Let your teenage child knows that you are taking his/her emotions seriously and giving the assurance and support he/she needs to overcome the condition.

How Will You Know if it Is Time to Seek Professional Help?

If you suspect that your child is suffering from teen depression, seeking the help of a therapist or health professional is the next step. It is also a must-do when the depressive behavior is getting worse.
Finding the right people and the right treatment is vital to the alleviation of symptoms of teenage depression. For proper diagnosis of the problem, a psychologist or psychiatrist will perform the evaluation, taking into account the family history, relationships with peers, and school performance. The evaluation may involve asking a series of questions about their moods, thoughts, actions, and behaviors.

Psychological and behavioral evaluation

To qualify for major depressive disorder (MDD), there should be at least two major displays of depressive episodes within two weeks. The episodes should include 5 of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Depressed mood most of the day
  • Psychomotor retardation or visible agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sleepiness or insomnia
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Diminished interest in a lot of activities
  • Reduced ability to concentrate or think
  • Recurring thoughts of suicide or death
  • Feelings of excessive guilt and worthlessness

Physical evaluation

A thorough medical checkup is also necessary to rule out underlying medical conditions or diseases that contribute to teen depression. Conditions like hypothyroidism can cause tiredness, low energy level, or depressed mood.

How to Treat Teen Depression?

After determining the severity of teen depression, the health expert will recommend treatment to help your child. It may involve psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of the two. For severe depression, it may require confinement in a psychiatric unit to manage the symptoms.

  • Talk therapy. Talk therapy is a type of intervention to overcome depression. It is conducted by a licensed therapist or counselor to help your teenage child change his/her thinking patterns, boost self-esteem and self-acceptance, build confidence to handle stressors and life’s struggles, and adopt more positive emotions. This is best for managing mild to moderate cases of teen depression.
  • Psychotherapy. It is a more advanced intervention to treat depression in youths. It may include the ‘three T’s for depression’- interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
  • Medications. Administering antidepressants to alleviate the symptoms can be helpful, but monitoring is important. Several studies link these types of medication to suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

How to Support Your Teenage Child Through Treatment?

Love and support are two factors that make a whole world of difference for teenagers during the low points of their lives. As a parent, it is essential to be your child’s rock and strength during the depression treatment. As much as possible, involve him/her in exploring the treatment options. Get your teen’s input about his/her preferred option and discuss the pros and cons before making a decision.
Be understanding and patient, remembering that your teenage child is not acting out on purpose but seeking help to overcome the negative emotions and thoughts helps you put everything in proper perspective.
Stay involved during the treatment by making sure that all instructions are followed, the proper dosage of prescribed medication is given on schedule, and all therapy sessions are attended. Keep track of the changes in your child’s physical, emotional, social, and behavioral engagement.
Celebrate small victories and always be prepared for possible setbacks. The road to recovery can be difficult and bumpy, but going through the rough road is the only key to helping your child overcome teenage depression with flying colors.

What Happens if You Stay After They’ve Cheated?

betrayed spouse cycle

There are many different paths the betrayed partner can take.  In my experience, I see a few different outcomes for the betrayed spouse cycle.  There are always outliers, but these are some common patterns.

First, occasionally is the spouse who stays in the marriage and also stays angry, resentful, and continues to punish their partner. This happens less often and the true outcome is two miserable people staying in a marriage out of fear or obligation.  These relationships can survive, but the betrayed partner may become highly controlling, short with their partner, and very unhappy.

Or the betrayed partner will stay in the relationship but keep their emotional distance from their partner as a way to protect themselves. This is a relationship that looks great on the outside and even pretty good if you look a little closer. But there’s distance and a lack of true intimacy. With this path of recovery, I see two happy-ish people who are together in being lonely on the inside.  In these relationships, there is the potential for the betrayed partner to shift back into a connected relationship, but the willingness to open themselves back up the risk of trusting has to be present.

These two outcomes happen less common and take intensive treatment to change.  The betrayed partner must have some willingness to accept this unwanted addition to their life story.  They don’t have to like it, but there must be an acknowledgment and acceptance that it is.  

And here’s the best, most common outcome I see after the betrayed spouse cycle. A couple will decide to be vulnerable, take risks, and stay in the discomfort that comes with recovery together. They realize the old marriage is gone and a new marriage has to be intentionally created. With these couples, I see the betrayed partner gradually become more themselves, more confident in their ability to survive very-bad-things, and proud of the work they’ve done to create a new relationship.

This partner uses the trauma of infidelity and changes the energy of the destruction to the energy of growth and creation.

Effects of discovering betrayal

Oftentimes, the betrayed will exhibit many symptoms of PTSD after the discovery of betrayal.  They may experience:

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • No appetite

  • Nightmares

  • Clumsiness

  • Forgetfulness

  • Emotions that swing from one extreme to another

In the early stages of recovery, these are all normal.

After the betrayed spouse cycle:

However, what I sometimes see in the end stages of recovery for the betrayed partner is:

  • A person more authentically engaged in their relationship

  • A person who knows they will survive if this happens again

  • A person who knows they have the strength to recover

  • A person who knows they have the drive to take charge of their life

These betrayed partners feel joy, contentment, and are glad they made the decision to attempt the repair.

With therapy, talking with others, reading books, listening to podcasts, they learn to see the infidelity as something that belongs to their partner.  The cheat was something that did not have anything to do with them.  They see the infidelity not as demeaning or humiliating to them but saying speaking solely about their partner.

Infidelity can demolish relationships and also be something that can be more than just survived.  For both partners.

I don’t like to use ‘always’ or ‘never’ statements, but I will here.  No couple ever gets through recovery with complete grace.  There is always at least one moment that people look back on and think “yeah, I wish I had done that differently”.  Give yourself the gift of accepting your imperfections and accept, this process does not exist without a few moments you may wish you could take back.

If you have this type of moment in your recovery, I find they become neutralized with apologies.  Owning your behavior and words, showing you are remorseful, and explaining how you’ll handle things going forward works to rebuild.

If you’re going through the betrayed spouse cycle and you’re on the fence about whether to stay or go, let’s talk. You don’t have to figure this out alone.

Are You Suffering From Pregnancy Depression?

By Ellie Messinger-Adams

When we hear the word betrayal we typically think of relationships and the betrayal of someone we love. Betrayal, however, is not that limited. For many women who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, betrayal is personal. When our experiences do not line up with the ones we dreamed up and our body does not do things the way “everyone else’s” does we feel betrayed by ourselves, our bodies, our expectations, and our spirit. When this happens it is important to remember that you are not alone, many women before you, now and in the future have and will experience this pain. The question is how do we manage it?

Pregnancy is not always butterflies and lollipops. It is real, it is hard and it brings up so many emotions that we never thought we had. 

  1. Name it: This might sound crazy, but one of the first things that can help us when we feel pain is to name what it is. When we can recognize that we feel betrayed by ourselves we can begin to discover what we need to move forward. It helps us begin to get unstuck. Words that might show up for you: betrayal, grief, loss, disappointment, anger, sadness and so much more.

  2. Grieve the losses: The betrayal of our bodies leaves us with feelings of loss. Before we are able to move on we have to recognize what we have lost and take time to grief those things. It is ok to cry, scream, and … this is normal

  3. Reconnect with your body: After we take time to grieve we MUST reconnect. Honor your body and what it did, does, and can do. Use mindfulness, yoga, exercise, meditation, or other practice to take time with yourself and for yourself.

  4. Talk about it: When we feel betrayed by our bodies it is natural to feel shame and want to run and hide from all the people we love hoping that they will not see “the real you”. When we talk about it and get our story out there, however, we get to normalize it, we get to be vulnerable and grow from our pain. What might surprise you is that when you talk with your partner, family, friends, or even colleagues you are likely to find another woman you know well who went or is going through these same things. 

  5. Find a community of other women: Mom’s need moms.  Finding a group of supportive, nurturing women who just know what motherhood is like can make all the difference.  Having someone who understands what it’s like to be exhausted, how frustrating it is to deal with toddler tantrums, and laugh with you when faced with yet another diaper mishap can be a life-saver for many mothers.  

If this is you and you are struggling to work through your personal betrayal, it is also important to know when to get help. You do not have to do it alone. Counseling can be a great way to help you begin to move forward again. We are here to help. 


5 Signs Your Teenager is Asking for Help

The teenage years can perhaps be best described as a time of physical, emotional, and social tumult. Changes happen so rapidly in adolescence, that neither child nor parent really knows how to cope.

Teenagers often become more detached from their families during this time. In fact, parents become less important in their teenager’s eyes, as their life outside the family develops.

While this is a normal and healthy part of development, it is not an easy place for parents to be. They must be able to let go of their children while still recognizing the warning signs of adolescent depression. This can be difficult because some moodiness is normal during the teenage years.

Here are 5 signs that your teen may be suffering from atypical depression and asking for help.

1. Mood Swings

As I just mentioned, thanks to the cocktail of hormones suddenly surging through a teenager’s body, it is quite normal for them to have mood swings. So how can you tell what’s normal and what is a sign of mental illness? You have to trust your parental instincts here. You know your child better than anyone and should be able to recognize any significant shift in mood. Particularly look for mood shifts that seem to have no root cause.

2. A Change in Behavior

It is normal for a teenager to have a certain kind of behavioral change. Normal changes include challenging authority a bit more and claiming their independence. What’s not normal is for your child to suddenly start presenting as a different person to you. This can be a sign of depression.

3. Substance Abuse

Most teens experiment a bit with drugs and alcohol. But you should see red flags if your teenager is chronically abusing substances and coming home drunk or high on a fairly regular basis. It is especially important to act immediately if your family has a history of substance abuse.

4. Self-Harm

Those teens who are experiencing significant emotional turmoil may choose to take their emotions out on themselves by cutting, hitting, or hurting themselves in some other manner.

5. Talk of Suicide

While teenagers can definitely be prone to drama and overreacting to events, no parent should ever ignore talk of suicide. With teen suicide rates on the rise, particularly among girls, any mention or attempt should immediately result in professional help.

If you or someone you know has a teenager who is showing one or more of these signs and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. I would be happy to discuss how I might be able to help.