The following blog is from a guest blogger that is the mother of a child with Adolescent Depression.
Every mother wants a healthy child. And when they are born, we look for the physical signs of whether or not they are healthy. My child was a perfect, bouncing baby girl.Her toddler years were like most toddlers. The “terrible twos” came and went, and we all survived. She was a little introverted and uneasy of new situations like many children. When we saw the first signs of something “different” with her were when she was eight
and in third grade. She became overly anxious about anything new – tests, friends, parties, too many people in one place, and anything different from her normal routine. Her heart would race, her breathing would become labored and she would become very quiet and withdrawn. This new anxiety that she was feeling didn’t seem to affect her relationships with others at first. Her pediatrician gave her some techniques to use to calm herself, and said we would keep an eye on her behavior and possibly refer her to a child psychologist or psychiatrist if things persisted or got worse.
Over the next year she started exhibiting more signs of depression – withdrawing from friends and family, refusing to go to school, being irritable and irrational, and acting out against her sister, father and me. We took her to a psychologist where she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
She is now 15 years old and the last six years have been full of more hills and valleys than most people experience in a lifetime. We have laughed and cried. She has been bullied and has bullied. She has been severely beat up. She has lost and gained friends. She has loved me and hated me. She has failed and she has excelled. As a mother watching my child struggle so much while desperately wanting to have a “normal” life is heartbreaking.
We have seen a multitude of psychologists and psychiatrists, and tried several medications. This was one of our biggest challenges with adolescent depression – finding the right mix of doctors and medications. And because she is a teenage girl with hormones, just when everything seems to be working and life is running smoothly, things change. She can still be very irritable. She can be verbally abusive and completely irrational in a heated moment. Luckily, she can now recognize that she was wrong after the fact and will apologize. We try to focus on her good days, positive reactions to people or situations, and every win she has whether big or small is much sweeter.
Adolescent depression can be debilitating for a child (and the family) if not treated quickly and well. Fortunately, we found the right psychologist and psychiatrist for my daughter. With their team effort of treating her with medication and counseling, she is able to not only function, but thrive in high school. The depression will be a lifelong battle for her, but she is at least equipped with family and friends that love and support her, and the fundamental knowledge of how depression can affect her life and how to best fight it.
Today, my daughter is an amazing young woman who isn’t perfect, and doesn’t need to be. Like the rest of us, she's simply working to be the best 'her' she can be.