Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Can parents protect their teenage children from depression?

Author:佚名 Source:none Hits:41 UpdateTime:2008-10-18 23:19:42

Can parents protect their teenage children from depression?

As parents, can anything be more dreadful than thinking that a child that we nurture, plan for, make sacrifices for, comfort, hope for and worry about will one day grow into a teenager who will consciously deliberate about whether they want to carry on living?

Recent statistics suggest that one in six of our teenagers will experience so much distress in their lives that they will consider suicide.

We can take some comfort from the fact that most children will not act on such thoughts, and that suicidal thinking does not always accompany depression. However, the sad fact is that a significant number of children will experience depression.

An often undiagnosed problem

Teenage depression often goes undiagnosed and, while there is no replacement for early diagnosis and treatment by skilled professionals, as parents we have much more of an impact on the symptoms than either we or our children realise. Whether we try to avoid our childrens low mood or try to help them, it is fundamentally important to understand how we impact on them.

There is a big difference between low mood and depression.

At some point nearly all teenagers will experience low mood. Low mood as a normal reaction to the losses, setbacks and failures that we all face from time to time. For most teenagers their low mood passes relatively quickly and causes little disruption.

Depression, on the other hand, is a problem that hangs on for longer periods, often causing much more disruption to our childrens lives. If they experience depression, they are also likely to have problems with concentration, memory, sleep, appetite, motivation, energy, and with their way of thinking. Inevitably it can affect their school work and can make them more vulnerable to drifting into drug or alcohol use or into other problematic behaviours.

Depression is still widely misunderstood

Ironically, although depression is very common in our society - during our lives at least one in four of us will experience a significant period of depression - it is still clouded by misunderstanding. Depression often does not make sense to those who have never experienced it. This lack of understanding can often leave teenagers who experience depression feeling very isolated.

Depression is like a trap from which its hard to escape.

For those teenagers who experience it, depression can feel like a trap - the more they try to escape from it, the more imprisoned they feel. Its not dissimilar to falling into quicksand. Struggling doesnt work, and the strategy that they need to get out (being still) feels counter-intuitive.

Are positive intentions enough?

As parents, one of the most important issues that we have to deal with is responsibility. Our own fear that somehow we are responsible for how our children are feeling. This can create high levels of distress that leads us to try to get rid of our own uncomfortable feelings. Much of the time we can make the situation worse by using unproductive strategies such as teaching, controlling, criticising, avoiding, and over-protecting all in the name of trying to help. For more productive outcomes, we will need to quickly drop and replace these outdated strategies.

No comments: