by Jennifer Mathis
Seeing Depression as a Serious Injury
Without broken bones, a high fever, or profuse bleeding, it can be difficult to determine how severe your teen’s depression really is. Depression stripped of any scientific or medical terminology is, put simply, a severe brain injury.
It’s not like your teen face planted in a skateboard stunt; it’s not that kind of brain injury. It is usually a slow, relentless assault on your child’s psyche, which drains vital hormones from their brain. It may be their love life’s gone bad, or lack of friends, or being the victim of bullies, or even their reaction to your divorce, or contentions at home that rob their brain of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
How important are these hormones? Well, imagine trying to drive your brand new car while it is dangerously low on oil, anti-freeze, transmission fluid, and brake fluid. Everything looks fine. It may even have that new-car smell, but it doesn’t seem to work right. Maybe your car just has a bad attitude.
Similarly, when your teen is low on serotonin, it is difficult for them to feel happy or good about anything. Low norepinephrine robs your child of motivation to achieve or even get out of bed, and low dopamine can affect your teen’s grasp of reality.
When your child is in this weakened condition, dealing with ordinary problems and stress can feel overwhelming and further tax their body’s remaining supply of these vital hormones, sending them into a full clinical depression.
When your teen is grappling with depression they won’t appear to be broken, injured, or in pain. In reality, they are bleeding to death in front of your eyes. Hopefully you will see it in time.
Does depression sound serious to you yet? If you are convinced, here are the four steps you need to take now for your teen.
Step 1 – See Your Doctor
Yes, you will need to see a doctor. Depression is a medical condition. It isn’t a “bad attitude.”
Under most insurance plans, your teen will need to see your primary care physician first. Be sure you attend this visit. Most primary care physicians know when a condition requires a mental health specialist. He or she will most likely recommend a good child psychologist or psychiatrist, depending on the severity of your teen’s condition.
Step 2 – See the Psychologist
Based on your doctor’s recommendation, a health care professional which has the proper training and experience to deal with your child’s condition will be able to help determine the underlying causes and ongoing circumstances that exacerbate your child’s depression.
He or she will also know the proper treatment such as psychotherapy. Severe depression usually requires both a psychotherapy provided by a licensed child psychologist or psychotherapist as well as medication prescribed by a psychiatrist.
Step 3 – Follow Your Doctor’s Treatment
The Internet isn’t a good repository of medical information, mainly because much of it is inflammatory, misguided, or trying to sell something. You will surely find several sites that disagree with your doctor. Paying attention to this misinformation is a bad strategy.
Those who foster a non-medical approach don’t have a vested interest in your child’s welfare. They are most likely trying to sell you an herbal, vitamin concoction that is the equivalent of a band-aid on a broken leg.
Depression, like any other serious injury, can’t just be walked off, it needs medical intervention. The psychotherapy and medication your doctor prescribed will help your teen to heal.
Step 4 – Provide a Healing Environment
Even though medication for depression exists, it isn’t like aspirin for a headache. It only helps your child to cope enough to follow strategies and regimens that allow for gradual healing.
Based on this reality, it is impractical to think that your teen could heal in the very environment that helped create the problem in the first place. The competitive, negative, and often toxic atmosphere of school can nullify the effects of their medication and therapy.
Many parents have found the success they are looking for in boarding schools specifically created as places of healing. Severe depression often requires this type of intensive care for the psyche, allowing your teen to learn to deal with life and achieve academically without the negative stimuli that could reopen wounds and prevent proper healing.
As in cases of severe bleeding, doctors will eventually remove a tourniquet in order to repair tissue and allow the patient to fully recover. Similarly, drastic measures to save your teen from depression can eventually lead to full integration of your teen back into your life as well as society.
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