As parents, we try to ensure we do what is best for our children. As they grow we try to lead them, teach them, and mold them into young people that can think for themselves and make good decisions so that when the time comes for them to go out on their own, they have the tools they need to succeed.
It can be difficult if your once so called “perfectly healthy and happy” child suddenly starts having problems with sadness or anxiety. You may ask yourself questions like: What went wrong? Was it something I did or didn’t do? Is my child making this up? Are they making these issues into more than it really is?
Placing blame or assuming that your adolescent is just looking for attention is easier than facing that your child may have a problem that is deeper than you can fix with a quick conversation at home. If your adolescent experienced a traumatic event in their lives, if they have gone through or are going through puberty and hormones are kicking in, if genetics are a role, and sometimes for no known reason your teenager can begin to suffer from depression and or anxiety. It is not your fault, but it’s also not your adolescent’s fault. There is no blame to be placed here, only help to be sought.
If your adolescent starts exhibiting signs of depression or anxiety such as depressed mood or irritability, loss of interest in activities, fatigue or loss of energy, change in sleep patterns, change in activity, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, decreased ability to think or concentrate, thoughts of suicide or suicidal ideas or a plan, excessive worry or anxiety about several different things and the worry is hard to control, edginess, trouble with relationships (friends, teachers, parents), and/or intrusive thoughts it is time to call for an appointment with a counselor. Please do not delay, the longer you wait the more severe the depression and/or anxiety can become.
It is not uncommon for depression and anxiety to go hand in hand. So if you or your adolescent notice several from both categories it is possible that they are dealing with
both things. Sometimes the severity of the depression and/or anxiety can be overwhelming for a parent to see in their adolescent making them feel that surely they must be looking for attention or making up some of the problems. Unfortunately, in most cases this is not true. Many adolescents suffer from severe depression/anxiety and it takes a lot of time and hard work to get them to a place where they are able to cope and live their lives in a happier place.
Parents please don’t ignore the signs and symptoms or your own intuition about your teens. If your teen comes to you and mentions feelings such as those listed above please listen and get them the help they need. Also, please don’t forget that we are here for you and your teen when you are ready for the next step.
Anne Wiggs, MA LPC-Intern
Supervised by Jennie Fincher, Ph.D, LPC-S