Helping Your Teen Cope with Depression and Anxiety.

I’ve run my fair share of 10 km runs, half marathons and even a 10 km trail race once. But I don’t consider myself a strong runner by any stretch. I’m 5’9″ with short legs and a longer torso which isn’t exactly a runner’s build. I’ve trained for years but know for a fact that I will never be as fast some of my other peers at the gym like Joni, Nancy or even Rob. I remember having a debate once with a sales rep at a running shoe store in Port Moody. I stated that not all runners are built equally. She strongly disagreed and believed that we all are designed to run equally as fast and it’s just a matter of training and a good pair of shoes (…of course…)

Whether it’s being a fast runner, being able to do math or having the ability to play a musical instrument just by listening to a song, I believe we’re all built differently. And the same can be said about those living with mental health challenges. I believe that those who live with depression, anxiety and other mental challenges are built differently in how they can cope.

 

My teenage son struggles with social anxiety. It’s been one of his banes throughout his young life which fuels much of his depression. It then becomes cyclical and as a result, he’s becoming a prisoner to these crippling disorders.

Naturally as a father, I’ve researched a number of ways to help him cope with it, which includes speaking to numerous professionals, colleagues and groups to find solutions. One of the things that I’m learning is that not one rule fits all. Many have suggested going to group therapy, forcing him to attend school or to cast him into the deep end with lots of social interaction in order to condition him.

And then there’s medication, one-on-one therapy, breathing, meditation, exercise and diet.

Although there’s been no silver bullet to helping him, I believe there’s a cocktail of different ideas that will. I’ve just got to be patient in finding that right mix.

I read many forums online about people dealing with anxiety and depression because it’s nice to hear a lot of the success stories out there (and also to remind myself that I’m not alone). As someone with lived experiences, I firmly believe that everyone must find their own solution when managing anxiety and depression because we’re not all built the same way. Some people might have a greater resilience than others. Some might get triggered a lot quicker than others. Some people have stronger coping skills than others.

I once posted a tweet: “If someone is having a difficult time with social anxiety, do you force them into that social situation? Or do you allow them to stay away from it?” – it’s debatable, isn’t it? On one hand, conditioning the mind can be a powerful tool. But if the feelings are so overwhelming, staying away can be the safest self-care tool you can give yourself.

My point is that there’s a lot of great suggestions out there (including some tips I’ve posted before), but each individual must try what’s best for their situation.

As an author, blogger and father, I don’t pretend to know all the answers to managing a child with anxiety and depression. All I know is that we must do what our heart tells us and what we believe is right for our child, by trying a variety of ideas. Sounds cheesy, but if we do things strictly based on what everyone tells us we should do because it worked for them, we may end up doing more harm than help.

Cheers,

Jason

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Jason Lee, Author of Living with the Dragon. Photo by Kristi MacFarlane Photography

 

 

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