6 Signs Your Teen May Be Depressed

As teens struggle through the tough transition period of childhood into young adulthood, it can be difficult to decipher a teen’s behavior. Are their out-of-control emotions and conduct a result of the natural process of adolescence, or is it something more serious?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2016 approximately 3.1 million adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 experienced at least one episode of major depression. Depression is a serious mood disorder that, if left untreated, can cause serious short and long-term mental and even physical health problems. Moreover, depression carries a high risk of suicide.

Below are six signs you can look for to determine if your teen could be experiencing depression.

1. Excessive Crying and Sadness

While emotions tend to run high in most teenagers, excessive crying and sadness that persist for more than two weeks could be a sign of depression.

2. Loss of Interest and Motivation

When a teen is depressed, they may have trouble concentrating. This will cause them to lose motivation and interest in activities they once enjoyed.

3. Problems at School

The loss of concentration and motivation could also result in problems at school. Skipping school, plunging grades and a lack of participation in school and extracurricular activities are all signs that could be pointing to teen depression.

4. Changes in Weight or Eating Habits

Has your teen’s eating habits changed? Are they skipping meals or eating larger portions more frequently? Eating more or less, as well as dramatic changes in weight (either gained or lost) is one of the signs of depression.

5. Withdrawal

Depression causes people to isolate themselves. It’s not uncommon for a depressed teen to begin to withdraw from friends and family, choosing instead to spend time alone or locked in their room. If your teen is depressed, you may notice them begin to avoid spending time with friends and loved ones.

6. Suicidal Ideation

Thoughts or expressions of death or suicide should never be taken lightly. Threats or even jokes about suicide are a cry for help from your teen. If your teen expresses thoughts of suicide, react calmly, and then seek immediate help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

If you suspect that your teen is experiencing depression, it’s important that you seek professional help from an experienced mental health professional that specializes in treating teens. Call me today and let’s set up an appointment to talk.

Co-Parenting Strategies for Divorced Parents

Going through a divorce can bring the worst out of a couple that once promised each other forever. Your world might feel like it’s falling apart, and trying to co-parent when you’re struggling to simply keep going can be overwhelming. Learning to co-parent won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible. Use the five strategies below to start co-parenting with your ex.

1. Focus on the Children

By maintaining the focus on what’s best for your children, you can work toward providing as peaceful a home as possible for them. Providing them loving stability and structure will help ease them through this time of transition.

2. Communication is Essential

As you go through your divorce, your communication with your ex will inevitably suffer. It may be difficult to communicate with them; you may not want to talk to, or hear from, your ex. However, it’s important that communication regarding the children is maintained, and that your children are not used as messengers (i.e., “Tell your father you have a recital on Friday.”) Communicate directly with your spouse, finding creative ways to communicate to avoid conflict if necessary (text, email, letters, etc.)

3. Just the Facts

If you’re harboring resentment or have unfinished emotional business with your ex, the desire to express your emotional needs can feel overwhelming. Make a commitment to yourself that for the sake of your children’s well being, you’ll keep conversations focused on the issues.

4. Embrace Change

As you go through your divorce, there will be a great deal of change for yourself, your ex, and your children. By expecting and embracing change, you’ll reduce the stress you feel when the unexpected presents itself.

5. Prioritize Your Health

Maintaining your health is important not only for you but for your children as well. As they learn to cope with the changes in their family, having a healthy, happy, rested parent will help them adjust. Your children depend on you, and you owe it to them to give them your absolute best as a parent. Additionally, taking time to exercise and eat healthily will help you take the focus off of your divorce, and shift the focus back on to you moving forward, and making positive changes in your life.

As we go through a divorce, we mourn the relationship lost, and the dreams we had of the future. Although your ex is no longer your partner, your ex is still your child’s parent, and you will always be co-parents of the children you have together. Learning to get along and communicate will bring comfort to your children as they learn to cope with their parents’ divorce.

If you’re going through a divorce and struggling to co-parent effectively, call me today and let’s set up an appointment to talk.

Mass Shootings: How to Talk to Your Kids

After the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999, certainly, no one could imagine that over the next 20 years, 200 more school shootings would occur. In the first 79 days of 2018 alone, there were 12 school shootings, compared to 9 over the entire year of 2017. Sadly, school shootings are becoming an epidemic in the United States. As the nation struggles to find a solution to the violence, our kids’ safety and security hang in the balance.

How you talk to your kids about these tragedies varies by age and per individual child, but it’s important to take note that both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend avoiding the topic with children under 8. Kids under 8 have difficulty telling if the violence they’re watching at the movies or on TV is real or fantasy, which can cause great fear and anxiety. For this same reason, experts also recommend that children under 11 avoid watching the news entirely. At this young age, children’s brains have not yet developed enough to cope with violent tragedies, and exposure to these realities can be damaging psychologically.

For children over the age of 8, or if you believe your child might hear about the incident from others, first summarize the event in a single sentence. Keep in mind that your child will use your words to tell the story to themselves in their head, so choose your words carefully. What you say should also reflect your family’s beliefs and values. Speak in a calm and matter-of-fact tone of voice, as your emotional reaction will have a long-lasting impact on your child, more so than your words. Children will have a lot of questions so try to stay focused on positives, such as the people that helped and the support of the community.

For pre-teens and teens, start by asking what they know. Ask how they feel, and listen carefully to what they say. If they don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay too.

Your child may want to do something to help. Discuss what you can do together to help the victims’ families, the school, or the community. Volunteering can help us cope with tragedy as we feel the positive effects of contributing and doing good for people in need.


If you or your child are struggling to cope emotionally because of an incident of mass violence, a licensed mental health professional can help. Call my office today so we can schedule an appointment to talk.

How to Lovingly Parent a Depressed Child

Being a parent is the hardest job on the planet. But being a parent of a child with a mental illness can feel unbearable at times.

All parents want to do what’s right for their kids, but when your child is sick, either physically or mentally, the desire to “get it right” becomes even more intense.

If you are the parent of a child with depression, know there’s isn’t one “right way” to parent them. Having said that, here are some ways you can support and show you love your child on their way back toward the light.

Accept Your New Reality

For many parents, accepting that your child has a mental illness is extremely difficult. It is natural to want to deny the truth and pretend that everything is the way it was before the diagnosis. But invalidating reality will only make your child feel shame. Accepting the truth will help your family take the necessary steps to get the right help.

Communicate Openly

Your child needs you now more than ever. They need to feel that they can talk to you when their world feels dark. Sit your child down and tell them they can come to you at any time for any reason. Let them know you could never be angry at them for how they feel. When they are ready to talk, listen closely and with an open mind and heart.

Help Their Body

It’s a fact that an unhealthy body affects the mind, especially with a mental illness in play. Help your child’s recovery by encouraging healthy eating habits. Limit sugar, bad fats, and caffeine intake. Make sure they get plenty of exercise. Invite them to go for a hike or bike ride with you. And finally, help them get enough sleep each night by setting firm bedtimes.

Talk to Them About Suicide

It’s a conversation no parent ever imagines they’ll have to have. But for the parent of a depressed child, the risk of suicide is a sad reality. Start the conversation with your child. Ask if they’ve ever thought about suicide. Asking these questions in an objective way allows your child to speak candidly with you and share their true thoughts and feelings with you.

And understand that there is no danger of a person planting a thought of suicide in someone else’s mind if it’s not already there.

Get Help

Though you can be a big support in your child’s life, you’ll need the help and guidance of a trained mental health therapist. Talk to your pediatrician for a referral. You can also get a referral from local support groups and friends and family.

If you or a loved one has a child suffering from depression, you are not alone. Please contact me to discuss treatment options.