In our sessions at the teen support center, we often will use metaphor to talk about depression because when we can put a mental illness in physical terms, it helps teens to look at their situation in a whole new way and helps them to take action and effectively change their behaviors and routines so that they positively impact their mood at its core (and not just mask the symptoms.)
Here are our 7 Reasons Depression is Like the Common Cold:
Some days it’s just a nagging tickle in your throat and a stuffy nose and life can proceed as usual -- even though it’s always there as a dull reminder.
Some days your head hurts so badly and your nose is so clogged that moving or getting out of bed feels next to impossible. You feel like bed is the only option and that you “just can’t do life” today.
Sleeping all day helps you to cope with it but it’s still totally there when you wake up.
You can laugh with your friends and still have a cold. The awesomeness of friends does not negate the suckiness of a cold.
You try not to complain about it to others, especially when you’re up and completing daily tasks because you don’t want people to judge you, tell you it’s not that bad, relate to you by telling you about their most recent sniffles, or worse… tell you it’s mind over matter and you’ll get through it.
You’d love to be tucked in by a loved one, brought chicken soup and nurtured but you don’t want to feel like a burden on others.
Cold medications may work to mask some of the symptoms, but they don’t make it go away and you hate that you have a cold. You wonder how you got it, why you have it and when it will go away… and in the deepest midst of it, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll ever feel any other way again.
Just like with any physical illness, when you don’t acknowledge and effectively treat the problem, it tends to get worse. Or at the very least, it sticks around a LOT longer than is comfortable or helpful.
And, what starts as a dull sadness or a tearful night or two over homework can quickly lead to overwhelm, hopelessness, loss of motivation or isolation. When an emotion isn’t validated by parents, the behaviors that come with that emotion will escalate until your teen feels heard and understood.
Having a safe space to explore, express, communicate and cope with emotions BEFORE they become overwhelm is an effective way to manage a “cold” and not just treat or dull the symptoms.
What’s more, when you can communicate to your teen that you truly understand how they feel (either by validating them with your words and with listening wholeheartedly or by connecting them with a therapist for more support) it allows your teen to FEEL understood by you and opens up communication and an opportunity for a closer bond with them.
If you have a teen who is experiencing:
A low mood, feeling “blah” or numb and lacks enjoyment in everyday activities
Feelings of worthlessness or hopelesssness
Isolation or withdraw from friends
Fatigue, exhaustiion, difficulty getting out of bed or getting motivated
Thoughst or urges to harm themselves
We currently have appointments available for depressed teens who want to learn how to...
- Actually implement effective skills to manage their mood on a day-to-day basis
- Understand and “catch” how they feel in any given moment so that they can make positive choices in how to respond, rather than acting impulsively or destructively and making the situation worse
- Learn how to handle overwhelm in healthy ways now so that stress-masking habits don’t become a way of life
- Learn how to appropriately ask for support and not use manipulation tactics or fall apart so that others take care of them
But, these appointments are certainly not for everyone :)
Your teen MUST:
- Be open and excited about working with a counselor who will “get” them and who will help them understand that they are not alone
- Be willing to learn new skills to help them manage their mood
- Be ready to let go of the excuses and negative thinking that have been keeping them stuck
If this sounds like your teen, I’d love to personally connect.