How To Help My Daughter With Depression

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As a dad, it really tugs at my heartstrings anytime someone calls me

and asks how do I help my depressed teenage daughter? I've got some pointers today.

Teen depression, it's become a big concern. In fact, suicide is the number

three cause of death for people under the age of 25.

That's pretty significant. Now not all depressed teens are suicidal. In fact,

most of them are not, that's just one of the symptoms or possible manifestations

of depression. There's a lot of other teens who are experiencing depression

and they may even be in the early stages of it so as you look for changes in

behavior, things that are not typical for your son or daughter, how can you help

your daughter who has depression? I've got three suggestions for you today,

maybe we could call them rules. Can we elevate them to that status? Here's rule

number one. Put your own mask on first. Now this goes back to my experience in

flying on airplanes and some of you have done this as well. You know when you're

getting on a commercial airliner and they go through the little safety

routine, right? And you're supposed to follow along on your laminated card. I

hope that you do that and they get to this point where they say, if we lose

cabin pressure then these oxygen masks are going to fall from the ceiling and you

fasten them on with a little rubber band and then breathe normally, right? Yeah,

your planes going down, you're going to breathe normally but anyway, at that

point in the routine, they always say this, if you're traveling with young

children or someone who needs assistance, please put your own mask on first. Now

why do they say that? Because if you're out cold in the aisle, you're just in the

way, right? You're not fully functioning so that you can assist another person.

Why did I make this the first rule? If you want to help your daughter for example,

teenage daughter who seems to be experiencing some depression or you're

noticing some of the signs and symptoms, it's enormously

important for you as a parent to be in a good place,

it's an enormous burden for kids and especially for teenagers if they feel

like they have to take care of their adult parent emotionally or otherwise

and a lot of times, they're hesitant to even share anything that's going on because

they're afraid of how it might impact you so get into a good place. I think as

you find yourself in a place where you are positive and happy and you know what,

we got tons of videos on that stuff so please go look at those and do whatever

you need to to get yourself into a good place, get some counseling, get some

coaching, whatever you need to do to take care of this one because then you can

show up and really help your daughter or your son with what it is they're

experiencing, this takes away the burden so they don't have to take care of you

so you got it? That's rule number one, you put your own mask on first. Rule number

two, listen listen listen. I said it three times. Listen, you want to provide an open

listening ear, there's something enormously therapeutic about being able

to share what's on your heart and mind especially with someone that you don't

have to worry too much about emotionally that they can handle it, they can take it,

that's just a little call back to why rule number one is so important. So you

put yourself in a position where you can create for your daughter, let's just

focus on your daughter for purposes of this video but understand that this can

go for sons too. Your daughter's experiencing some depression, she's got

some things on her mind, you create for her a safe loving stable open

environment where she can talk about anything. Now let me address that for.

I've been practicing as a psychologist now for about 23 years at the time of

this video, I've listened to a lot of stuff, you can't shock which is enormously

therapeutic to my clients who come in with some burden on their mind that

they want to share but they're afraid of the shock value, you know, that maybe

if they share this people are going to look at them differently or people are going to

think about them differently or it's going to shock or alarm someone. We take

all of that away and we can hear anything so adding to rule number two of

listen listen listen, including that, no freak out, alright? One of the worst

things that can happen is that somebody will share something with you and you're

like, what? Right? And you freak out, it's like, no, I

can't believe I'm hearing this. Well that's not helping, okay. For them to

share it is what we're going to focus on. It doesn't matter what the content is,

you prepare yourself to hear anything and usually it's not going to be as

shocking and terrifying as that person who wants to share it with you thinks it

is so your daughter is thinking, oh my gosh, mom's going to freak out, mom's going to

freak out and she finally gets up the guts and the courage to share something

with you and you receive it peacefully. In fact, you practiced this response. Okay,

thank you for sharing that with me, we can handle this. Do you see how

reassuring that is? You don't even have to know how you're going to handle it but

what I want to create here is a listening parent that's able to receive

anything that's going to come up, okay? Sometimes it helps beforehand to do the

little what-if game, okay. So imagine that your daughter is into whatever it is

that you're afraid she's into, what if my daughter tells me she's on drugs, okay,

we'll handle that beforehand so that you can practice saying okay.

You know, no matter what it is, okay, we've got this, we'll do whatever it takes to

handle this. See, you're going to be reassuring peaceful present. Well, what if my

daughter is having sex with her boyfriend? Okay, we got this. Same response

to anything that they can share with you, that's powerful so rule number two

listen listen listen and remember, you got two ears and one mouth so we're

going to use them at least in that proportion

okay. Usually your kids just need to offload some stuff first, they don't need

to hear any advice at this point. In fact, I would have refrained from giving

advice. You just open up that space for them to talk. Okay, you with me? And that's

challenging enough okay so whatever you need to do to create a context for that

and sometimes you get out out of the house, alright.

You might notice that your daughter needs to talk a little bit so you say,

hey honey, let's go take a drive. You know and you get her in the car and you go up

through the mountains or something where you've got a little bit of time where

you're in a in a private space and she can talk or hey, can I take you to lunch

today? You know and you go somewhere where you

actually have a little booth where you can have some kind of a private

conversation in a public place, these are just little tips and tricks to kind of

help get them talking. Now if they don't want to talk yet, if she's just like, I

can't. I can't even talk about it, mom. I can't, I don't feel like saying anything

dad. Okay, that's fine, accept that and continue to create the open safe space

where that can happen. As you work on your listening, your focus is really

important. I did another video on something that I'm calling the influence

quadrant. As soon as this video is over, would you just connect with that?

There's a link right up here where you can get right to that video because that

will help you to understand that where your focus is as you're doing this

listening in rule number two, makes a big difference and that's another tool that

I think this is going to help. Now let's go on to rule number three. Here's where

I'm going with rule number three. As a parent, you have some responsibilities. We

never want to take depression or suicidal thoughts or actions lightly,

this is important so let's do everything that we can to assist our child. Rule

number three is this, be willing to be the parent. Now up until now, it's kind of

feeling like, well, we're going to be their friend, right? Because we want to make

sure that we're doing okay first so that we're in a good place that's rule number

one, we're going to listen listen listen, create that safe environment for

the communication lines to be open that's rule number two.

It feels really chummy, really friendly at this point. You're still the parent so

I want you to be able to ask the hard question. I had an interview on my

podcast once with a mortician, an undertaker, he actually preferred the

term undertaker and he shared with me, you know what? Talking about death won't

kill you. That's pretty good advice and talking about the things that you're

concerned about won't cause those things to come about and probably it's stuff

that your teenager is already thinking about.

So as you're sitting with your daughter, it's okay for you to ask the hard

questions. You can preface it by saying something like, you know, sweetie, some

kids in your position have gotten into drugs or sex or are thinking about

hurting themselves or have been cutting themselves or doing things that are

potentially harmful. I know that that happens. Is that something that's

happening for you? You can ask the question and be willing to ask the hard

questions because that opens up a whole new line of communication and it sends a

message to your daughter too that anything is fair game we can talk about

any of this stuff and I'm still not going to be freaked out. Remember the no

freakout rule? You come to this as a calm reassuring loving parent, you're willing

to ask those hard questions and then the second part of that third rule which is

to you know, be the parent. The second part of that is to provide the necessary

support and they may not be really eager or willing to do it at the time. I have

parents come to my office all the time with their teenagers and I always ask

the teenager right up front. Did your parents drag you in here

kicking and screaming? And that kind of puts them at ease a little bit because

I'm acknowledging, hey, this is not an easy thing to do but your parents love

you so much that they are willing to provide

resources that you need so that might mean counseling or therapy or coaching

or getting into some kind of a program that provides peer support or group

therapy, medication sometimes is helpful but as a parent, you still get to call

the shots on that and there will be times when they don't want to or they

feel resistant and you're going to have to make a judgment call to say you know

what, sweetie, I care about you so much that I've set up this appointment

and I'm inviting you to come with me because I think this is a good resource

to help you deal with the things that are coming up for you so you got it?

Three rules. Number one, you put your own mask on first. Number two, listen listen

listen and number three, you get to still be the parent, ask those hard questions

and provide the support that's necessary. We can help these kids and we really

need to. Whether it's your daughter or your son or anybody else that you love, I

hope you found some useful content here. Would you please comment below about

what you're learning?