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Thursday, 14 September 2000

Therapist's Comments on Depression

Written by  Naomi Baum, PhD.

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That feeling of being overwhelmed by fatigue, and unable to drum up the energy to do anything is a real sign of depression. If it continues for more than a short while it's time to pay attention. If you have a friend that has been in a funk for more than a few weeks, or if you yourself are unable to shake off that "absolutely no energy for anything" state, it is time to turn for help.

Moodiness and low energy levels are certainly typical of many teens, for short periods of time, every now and again. For Mom to think that her daughter or son is just lazy and moody, and not to pay serious attention to what is really going on, is a mistake.

Depressions are often characterized by low energy, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, withdrawal from social relationships, and failing marks in school. All of these symptoms are apparent in this monologue.

The low and failing marks this teen is receiving may be the result of depression, but may be related to some undetected learning problems. Learning problems that have gone undetected and untreated often lead to feelings of lowered self-esteem, frustration and depression. Rather than label her teen "lazy", Mom might look into some educational or psychological testing to determine whether her child has a learning disability and to find out what type of remediation would be helpful and available.

On another note, having a perfect mother, like having a perfect older brother or sister, is a very tough act to follow. No matter how well you do, how hard you study, how nice you are, you can never measure up. Sometimes it feels like it doesn't even pay to try. If you don't try, then you won't fail, and won't be disappointed again.

Hey! Wait a minute!! Who says your mother or your older sister has to be your yardstick? It's clear that you are beginning to develop values of your own, that there are things that you like to do, or are good at, and that these things make you an individual.

It's important for you to choose what you want to do, and then to decide to do it well. Who says you need to go to law school, or ace geometry? It's important to figure out what YOU like, and then go for it.

Doing things you like to do, you will find people who are like you, and who you care to be with.

Now as to getting along with Mom - - it probably pays to figure out what the bottom line is. What do you need to do in order to get along and avoid aggravating your Mom? Talking with Mom about her expectations of you is a good way to start. When was the last time you had a REAL conversation with her?? If she has trouble making time for you, set up an appointment with her, just like she has an appointment with the hairdresser.

Think about the things you want to bring up with her. What is she laying on you that you feel is too much or unfair? What responsibilities are you up to, and willing to deal with? If you show her that you are willing to take on some responsibilities she will probably be willing to bend on some of her demands. Right now this might seem like too much of an effort. But keep it in mind, and when the time is right, go for it!

And Mom - - pay attention to what your daughter is doing and saying. Look beyond your expectations of her, and see what really is happening. Get in there, and help her clean up her room, if she will allow you to do it together, and talk with her, instead of at her. Even if they sometimes balk, teenagers need to know that their parents are there for them, rooting for them and ready to catch them if they falter.


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Last modified on Thursday, 14 April 2011 17:10
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Naomi Baum, PhD.

Naomi Baum, PhD.

Naomi Baum is the Director of the Resilience Unit at The Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma and the National School Resilience Project. Her work at ICTP focuses on developing programs to build resilience in communities that have been highly exposed to trauma and stress. She has successfully brought her approach to Biloxi, Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Her work there included seven visits to the city, she trained teachers, social workers, school nurses, and counselors. She has also worked with the population in Haiti following teh earthquake. She has written about Trauma and Resilience in several published articles and books.

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