Teenage Depression: how do you help a struggling teen?

Date: 07/03/2023

Title: Teenage Depression: How do you help a struggling teen?

00:00:00 Speaker 1
You. So your teenager is struggling with depression and can't even get out of bed. How do you
help them? Well, we're going to talk about that today on tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint.
I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and
families live happier lives. I lead two organizations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit
501 c three organization, child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California.
And every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions.
Let's answer today's. My son is depressed and unmotivated. He won't do anything. He knows he
should be getting a job, but he stays in bed just looking at his phone. He isn't even hanging out
with his friends like he usually does. I think he knows he's depressed too. We've suggested
therapy, but he doesn't want to do anything. How do you help someone like that? Would depression
medication help? Thank you for your question. As a parent, seeing

00:01:08 Speaker 1
your teenager go through depression, it feels hopeless. It feels helpless. There's so much
you want to do to help. You want to shake them, but that doesn't work, and there's a lot of reasons
for that. And we're going to talk a little more about how to help support someone in this kind
of situation. First, I want to address the last question you had. Would medication help? In
full disclosure, I'm a licensed marriage home therapist, not a medical doctor, so I can't give
you any direct medical advice, except that if you're considering medication, you should talk
to a licensed psychiatrist, especially someone who focuses on adolescents. The reason is
you may have several questions or doubts about medication, and those are totally valid, and
you should bring those questions to the psychiatrist. And if they can answer the questions
to your liking in a way that makes sense to you, that you think going down the medication route
will be helpful, then you go down that route. If for some reason they

00:02:05 Speaker 1
can't satisfy those answers, then don't. Ultimately, you and your spouse or your co parent
and your teenager need to make this decision for you guys. But the thing about medication, I
don't necessarily think it's the first thing you try, but it's not necessarily the worst thing
you could try either. There's a lot of avenues that you can support your teenager with. First
of all, be patient, be loving, be understanding. Approaching with anger is not going to help.
It's going to push them away and push them deeper down the hole. And for those of you who don't
really understand what depression is, never really felt depression. Depression is like this
heavy weight that's on you that it's just never ending. Things that you used to enjoy and you
give you pleasure are gone. Those don't exist anymore. They may still be there, but you can't
enjoy them. If you really enjoyed baseball, you can't enjoy anymore. It doesn't mean anything.
There's nothing that matters, nothing that means anything. And

00:03:02 Speaker 1
it could be physically daunting as well. You could just be tired all the time. You can't eat or
you're eating too much. You can have physical pains. There's just this fearless loss of hope
and resiliency in depression, and it can be really devastating. And it's not just, well, get
up and go. Just go do stuff. Well, yeah, logically, that makes sense. But depression is not about
logic. It's about emotions. And so it's really important that you and any of his support team
there is understanding now, what are the things that one can do to combat depression? Any one
of these things is not really going to be the home run hit, but it may be something just to get you
on base. Things like creativity. If your son has historically been someone who's creative,
whether it's painting or drawing or making music or what have you, some amazing art can come
from depression. If you can channel that. Also, physical activity doesn't have to be extravagant.
It could be just taking a walk, also just getting outside

00:04:04 Speaker 1
anecdotally I've had several clients who've been dealing with depression and anxiety to some
sense, too, who they've gone, like camping out in the wilderness for days at a time. It's a camping
trip, and they're out in the woods or in the forest, or they're at the beach or wherever it is,
and they feel better, number one, because the phone's not working. So it's not a distraction.
But just being in nature can be a positive outlet for people gardening. I've known many people
who like putting their hands in the soil and digging and growing a garden can be very helpful.
Caring for others, whether it's animals, whether that's at a homeless shelter, whether that's
a senior citizen home, wherever, giving of yourself to someone, helping, seeing that you're
helping someone else can help combat depression. Again, none of these things alone will do
it. But maybe a combination of several of these things help start digging out of the hole and
seeing that there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

00:04:57 Speaker 1
This is not an exhaustive list. These are just a handful of things that you may want to consider
in helping your son and getting him to therapy. If you can get him in the car and get him to the office,
any adolescent therapist is, if you just get him here, I can take care of the rest. Because a lot
of times when you get the clients here in the office, you get your son here. He wants to talk. It's
just the transition of getting out of bed and to the office is challenging. But if you can somehow
tear him away from his phone, get him out of the bed, get him in the car, you're helping him now.
If he says, no, I'm not getting the car. I don't want to go you can't make me go. Obviously, you
don't want to get in this tug of war with him, but if you can somehow get him in the car, that's most
of the battle right there. So this is not an easy topic. Depression can look a lot of different
ways. We just kind of touched on a little bit the highlights of how it can look. Obviously, it's
a very nuanced

00:05:51 Speaker 1
topic, especially if it's going into bipolar diagnoses, which means there's mania and depression,
which is a whole other video. But anyways, that's our talk for today. It's big. Keep talking
about it. Keep talking to your network. Make sure you're getting the support you need because
it can be very infuriating and frustrating and helpless as a parent. Again. My name is Kent Toussaint
with Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen Counseling. This is another edition of Tips on Teens
every Wednesday at noon. If you want your question answered, email us at tips on teens@teentherapycenter.com.
I love your questions. Keep them coming. I will see you next Wednesday at noon on Facebook Live.
See you guys. Bye.

It’s Not About Logic, It’s About Emotion

If you’re a parent having trouble relating to teenage depression, remember this: it’s about emotions, not logic. You may try reason as a way to help your kid get out of bed, but it probably won’t work. Instead, helping your kid with teenage depression requires lots of empathy and compassion.

The Weight That Never Lifts

For those who have never experienced depression, try to think of it as a heavy weight that never lifts. Teens experiencing this are suddenly unable to enjoy things that they used to really love. Maybe they’re tired all the time. Or maybe they just seem hopeless and lacking resilience.

It’s a big topic, and we talk about it in this Tips on Teens:

“My son is depressed and unmotivated. We just can’t get him to do anything. He knows he should be getting a job, but he stays in bed just looking at his phone. Also, he isn’t even hanging out with his friends like he usually does. I think he knows he’s depressed too. We’ve suggested therapy but he doesn’t want to do anything. How do you help someone like that? Would depression medication help?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.