Young People, Feelings & Depression

Young People, Feelings & Depression

– young people feel a lot of emotions – this is a “normal” part of growing up
– learning to cope with negative feelings is an important life skill for young people
– being “good at feelings” is more important than feeling good all the time
– parents can be there/available to talk when the teenager wants to
– parents can help young people work through problems – exercise judgment in helping them sort through
– adolescence can be a complex time
– it is a time of great change
– their body is changing
– they are forming their own identity
– they are working out their place in the world
– they are working out how to get along with family & friends
– some may be dealing with sexuality issues
– some may be dealing with alcohol or drug use
– some may be dealing with relationship problems
– some may be dealing with violence (domestic or otherwise)
– a young person’s thoughts & feelings can be greatly affected by what is going on in their life

– negative feelings may also be with a young person over weeks & months – for e.g.
– being sad, tearful, angry
– feel worthless or guilty
-lack motivation or angry
– lack interest in things they use to enjoy
– have poor concentration or make bad decisions
– stay away from family & friends
– say they feel alone
– eat ore or less than usual
– experience sleep problems
[this may result in a diagnosis of depression]

Dealing with Feelings – most young people want negative feelings to stop & they may:
– mask feelings through use of drugs & alcohol
– take risks by driving fast or unsafe sex
– withdraw from others
– engage in self-harm
[escaping from bad feelings these ways, often compounds & makes the problem worse]

****** The best way for young people to deal with negative thoughts & feelings is to “open up” & talk about the & what may be causing them. *********
– learning to talk about feelings is a good skill & may help prevent problems becoming a major issue

How Parents Can Help
– engage with the young person, rather than leaving them alone
– be available to talk/assist with problems (relationships, bullying)
– help them build support networks
– notice the good things they do & praise them (watching for if it makes them uncomfortable)
– make time to do things with them one-on-one
– help them to do things they enjoy
– avoid family conflict as much as possible
– help them eat well, be active & get adequate sleep
– discourage use of alcohol & other drugs
– try not to get angry – accept there will be good & bad days
– try to avoid telling them to get busy, or forget about how they are feeling
– avoid telling them to snap out of it or to get their act together
– try not to avoid or ignore them
[good parental self-care: relax, talk with others, exercise, eat well & get plenty of sleep]

Talking to the young person:
– choose time & place (private, allow sufficient time, no distractions)
– be open & honest
– ask open-ended questions (those that do not elicit yes or no answers)
– show that you have noticed how they seem to be feeling, & that you care
– listen & acknowledge (& avoid giving suggestions)
– stay calm & in control
– be prepared to admit that you do not know everything
– apologise if you get things wrong

If the young person does not want to talk about their feelings, says that nothing is wrong or will not talk to a professional – you, the parent may have to accept that it is not the right time for them to get help

– it is more than just short-term sadness, or a passing phase
– it affects a person’s thoughts, moods, behaviour & health
– it leaves the young person feeling down for much of the time
– it makes it hard to cope from day-to-day
– sometimes the cause of depression is clear/sometimes not
– it can be caused by recent events, long-term stress or a combination of both
– it is more likely if there is a family history of depression
– it is more likely if the young person has low self-esteem, is anxious or overly sensitive

Self-Harm & Suicide
– most people with depression do not self-harm
– some young people have suicidal ideation & act on their thoughts
– self-harm: cutting (to make the pain of their thoughts go away albeit temporarily)
– seek professional help
– signs of suicide:
– talk or threats of suicide
– previous attempts
– hints such as “I won’t be a problem for you much longer.”
– giving away possessions or getting their things in order
[all should be taken most seriously]
[talking openly about suicide does not suggest suicide, but rather may help the young person talk about their feelings & look for other ways to manage & stop their pain; talking also helps to find out what they are thinking]
[work out how they can stay safe]

Safety Contacts – Suicide/Self-Harm – Crisis
1 – Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service [CAMHS] – up to 18 years
9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday
Ph: 6205 1469 (north side)
Ph: 6205 1050 (south side)
2 – Lifeline – 24 hours – 13 11 14
3 – Suicide Call Back Service – 24 hrs – 1300 659 467

Source: Parent Link


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