Like recovery from any illness or condition, depression recovery is no easy feat. If you break your arm, the doctor can provide you with an approximate timeline for recovery and your limitations. The difference in the recovery process for depression is that there are no specific guidelines to follow. Every person is an individual with their own symptoms, history, and challenges and therefore, each person will experience a different recovery process.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 20% of teens are diagnosed with depression. For those who seek treatment, the recovery rate may vary between several weeks to several months. On the other hand, for some teens, depression may be a long-term illness requiring long-term treatment.
For those who have been suffering for an extended period of time, they may have difficulty identifying what “normal” feels like or what they should expect to feel like as they progress through their treatment plan. Regardless of how long the recovery process takes, anyone suffering from depression should know that they are NOT alone. There are millions of teens and adults who are seeking treatment for depression and many more who are suffering in silence. Teens should not be concerned with feeling alone in their suffering especially since loneliness and sadness already occupy so much of their depressive thoughts. Depression recovery is possible with the support and guidance of family and friends and a recovery plan like the ones developed through a facility like Beachside Treatment Center.
Depression is not simply a feeling of being blue or out of sorts that teens can just snap out of. It is a serious mental health condition that if left untreated can lead to other serious issues such as worsening of symptoms and the risk of suicide. Depression drains every ounce of energy that a sufferer has, depleting their hope and drive along with it. Even if a teen attempts to do things that in theory should make them feel better, depression will suck them back down into sadness and despair. This cycle that is created when trying to pull themselves up and sliding back down may feel like a Catch 22. Those activities which should make you feel better are in fact those that are the hardest to do. What most sufferers do not see as they succumb to the emotional and mental drain that depression subjects them to is that they, in fact, have greater control than they think they do.
If your teen is suffering from depression and you have taken the next step toward getting them the help that they need, congratulations! You have set them on the right path to fully recovering from depression. This does not mean that it will be an easy road or smooth sailing for them or you for that matter. What it means is that you very well may have saved your child’s life. Teen’s whose mood swings are more than just sadness may also be susceptible to substance abuse or other mental health issues and may also be at a high risk of suicide. However, by learning to manage their symptoms and feelings, they can fully recover from depression.
At this point though you may be asking, “what does depression recovery look like?” The trained medical professionals at Beachside Treatment Center are available to answer any of your questions about the next steps, what to expect and how involved you should be. But as an overview, let’s look at how the recovery process works and some important tips for helping your teen with their depression recovery.
- Listen don’t lecture. Understanding what is going on in their brains is hard enough. The last thing that a teen who is suffering from depression wants to hear is a lecture about how they should snap out of it or “oh, life is not that bad!” Listen unconditionally without judgment. It will be difficult enough for your teen to open up about their feelings let alone feel judged while doing so. Judgment and criticism will only make them retreat back into their cave of solitude and sadness.
- Acknowledge and understand. Although you may not actually understand what is going on with your child, you want to make them feel that they are understood and supported. Acknowledge the fact that they are experiencing the feelings that they are even if you do not believe or accept them.
- Be persistent. It is common for teenagers to shut out their parents both physically and emotionally. However, a teen who is depressed will have a greater tendency to shut down and not express their feelings to you. You cannot take offense but rather be persistent in letting them know that you are there when they are ready to talk about it. Be willing to listen on their time rather than yours.
- Social connections. Withdrawal from family is a normal teenage occurrence. However, depressed teens will also tend to retreat from friends as well as to stop engaging in activities that they once enjoyed preferring isolation instead. Unfortunately, isolation leads to deeper feelings of loneliness and sadness. Although your teen may not see how a treatment center can help them with their depression, it is, in fact, the best place for your teen to not only receive the necessary treatment but also for them to engage with other teens who may be experiencing the same or similar issues. Social connections are encouraged as part of a teen’s treatment and recovery plan.
- Just talking. Teens may not always want to talk about their feelings or why they feel sad. Set aside time to just talk about anything that they may want to talk about. The act of focusing on them, free of distraction or interruption, will help your teen to see your willingness to support and be there for them.
- Physical activity. As was mentioned earlier, this can be a catch 22. Your teen is feeling too lethargic to actually do any activity although activity will help to improve their mood and emotions. At a treatment facility like Beachside Treatment Center, your teen will participate in a number of activities requiring them to move in some fashion. Maybe it is going for a walk or playing tennis. It has been proven that mental and physical health are directly connected. If one area is failing, it is important to keep the other strong no matter how difficult it may be to actually accomplish this. Your teen may have difficulty getting out of bed let alone handling a walk through the park. But extra oxygen to the brain helps in the healing process and helps to mitigate some of the other symptoms of depression.
- Nutrition and sleep. We all know that good nutrition and quality sleep are essential for our bodies and minds to function properly. At Beachside Treatment Center, your teen will receive the nutrition that they need for optimum brain health and mood support. Sleep, something most teenagers are lacking, is encouraged and supported. On average, most teens require 8 to 10 hours of quality sleep to maintain their busy lives outside of treatment. A teen who is in the process of recovering from depression may need more to allow the brain to heal.
- Psychotherapy. Through cognitive behavioral therapy and/or individual therapy, your teen will have the opportunity to talk about their feelings and emotion with a trained mental health professional. They learn about what causes depression, how to make changes in their behavior or thoughts, how to cope with their symptoms, problem-solving skills, how to set realistic goals, and what will help them to regain a sense of control. Be sure to work with your child to identify the best possible therapist for them. Because everyone has a different personality and style, not every mental health professional may be the perfect fit for your teen’s depression recovery needs.
- Medication. Anti-depressant medication may be prescribed by your teen’s physician or healthcare professional to treat their depression. Finding the right medication or dose for your teen may require some trial and error. As effective as they can be in managing their symptoms, medications such as Prozac and Lexapro also come with their risks of worsening depression or suicidal thoughts. Be sure to speak to your teen’s doctor to understand the side effects, risks and benefits of any medication prescribed as part of your teen’s treatment plan and recovery.
- Stay involved. It is essential that during a teen’s recovery from depression they feel supported. Although the situation and treatment may be difficult for you and the rest of the family, it is critical that you remain as involved and focused as possible to ensure recovery. They may need you to encourage them to keep pushing forward and for them to remain focused on their treatment plan.
- Set realistic expectations. Treatment and recovery for depression are not going to be an overnight process. As mentioned, for some teens, recovery may require several weeks while for others it may be a lifelong struggle. Be sure to set realistic goals and expectations when it comes to your teen’s individual recovery. If you approach treatment expecting a very quick turnaround so that everyone can go about their lives, you may be setting yourself and your teen up for failure and disappointment. Understand that it is a process that must be handled with care and sensitivity to ensure that your teen’s symptoms do not worsen. A treatment plan is designed to give teens the best possible options to avoid relapse. This process cannot be rushed or cut short simply because you want them to be healed.
- Patience. This road to recovery may very well have some potholes and pitfalls riddling the path, requiring patience and understanding. You may be quick to judge yourself or pass the blame for your child’s depression but this does not serve any purpose in the ultimate goal of helping your teen to receive the necessary treatment. Be patient with yourself throughout the process as well as with them. Remember that each person recovers at their own rate. Although they may not be progressing at a rate that you feel is appropriate, do not push them any harder than necessary. This additional pressure may, in fact, hinder their progress in the recovery process.
- Self-care. As the parent or caregiver of a teen with mental health issues, it can be a stressful and confusing time. It is important that although you may be focusing your energy on your teen’s depression recovery that you take time for self-care as well. You may be frustrated, overwhelmed and even helpless but by bottling up these emotions, you will only cause you to experience your own problems. Your teen needs you at your best and this may even mean seeking the help of a professional so that you can talk out your feelings while your teen is in treatment. Be sure to also take care of your physical needs as well. Proper nutrition and sleep will help you to keep the situation in proper perspective.
Depression is not a mental health disorder that can be handled alone. Depression recovery requires the support of family, friends and trained mental health professionals. Whether it takes several weeks or several months, your teen can make a full recovery from their depressive thoughts and risky behaviors. It is important to note that while teens may once again have their lives back on track after treatment, many are highly susceptible to relapse typically within the next five years.
To ensure their immediate success from treatment as well as full recovery, it is critical that you follow some of the tips outlined above as well as the advice of the trained medical professionals at Beachside Treatment Center.