The world can be a scary place. Turn on the television for five minutes and it’s clear that bad things happen all the time. If you dwell on it and really spend time pondering it, it is enough to convince you to not step outside your front door. If it’s difficult for us as adults, just imagine how difficult it is for our teenagers. There are all kinds of pressures for them…social media, fitting in at school, making their parents happy, getting good grades, the list goes on and on. All of this and add on the biological and chemical changes going on in their bodies and it’s hard to imagine just how difficult it can be. Did you know that our current generation of teenagers are the generation that suffers the most with depression and anxiety? Not those living during the World Wars or The Great Depression, our teenagers, Generation Z. Additionally, 80 percent of teenagers with Anxiety and 60 percent of teenagers with Depression are going untreated (). Teenagers that struggle with anxiety also tend to struggle with depression and the opposite is also true because anxiety and depression play a balancing act. When anxiety has peaked, it is natural that depression follows swiftly after it.
So as parents what can be done? First, talk to your kids. Create a safe space where they know they can come to you about anything. Be strong for them. If they are depressed, listen. If they cannot trust and rely on you, who can they trust? You are their lifeline. You have always been. Even though when children become teenagers, they tend to go to their friends first, they still want to talk to you. And if they are acting like they don’t, just remind them that you are always there for them until they do want to talk to you.
Second, tell them you love them and you will always love them no matter what. Even if you feel they know it, say it aloud to them. Even if your parents never told you they love you, tell them. They need to hear it.
Third, talk to your kids about the option to see a counselor and reach out to get them an appointment should they want it or need it. Often counseling can be perceived as weak or unnecessary or scary. But if they are experiencing anxiety or depression or another struggle in their story, seeing a counselor can help. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it takes bravery to do so. Please know that you can always reach out to us here at Second Story Counseling for yourselves or your children. Or if it doesn’t work here, contact us and we can refer you to someone else. Just seek out someone should you need it. We are here to help.
Lauren Puckett, MA, LPC