My Son Femi, went through a stage in his teenage years when he suffered from depression. We had moved to another city where he didn’t have friends or the security of an extended family. Our new home was in the suburbs and we were yet to form new relationships. Being the most extroverted of my children, the isolation of the new environment took a toll on him. Soon after I noticed some changes in Femi, he went from being a very active and energetic adolescent to a harbinating bear.
He stayed more in his room and was sleeping a lot. Nothing we said or did would make him leave his bed, he was glued to it and seemed to have very little energy for anything else.
He would often complain of terrible headaches that hurt so badly especially when he bends his head down . To top it all up he started talking about seeing a bus filled with dead looking people drive pass the house! Believe me that was most worrisome , I knew that the reoccurring apparition was an indication of the spirit of death hovering around him. Realising my son was under attack, I started praying with him every day and one day when he wasn’t in his room I went in and took authority over the spirit of slumber and commanded them to leave.
After this I did see some improvement in my son’s life as he started sitting up more with the family. It was also about this time that we realized Femi was suffering from depression .
DIAGNOSING DEPRESSION IN YOUR TEENAGER
Diagnosing depression in Adolescents can be tricky as some of the symptoms of depression such as moods swings, irritability, apathy and anger are often dismissed as being part of the growth process of adolescent stage.
So what you may have presumed to be your adolescent being difficult or acting up at home could be signs that your teenager is depressed. It’s very important that Parents learn to look beyond the outward display of unpleasant behavior of their teenagers and seek to unravel the root cause of their behavior. For without help from parents, teenagers will sink further into depression which eventually could degenerate into suicide.
“It’s important that Parents are able to recognize and diagnose and get the necessary help and treatments that depressed adolescent need to get better”
RECOGNIZING DEPRESSION IN ADOLESCENTS
Feeling of Sadness: If your child transforms from being cheerful to being sad or moody.
Sleeping or insomnia: Sleeping too much or not sleeping at all and spending nights playing games, texting or binging on TV shows.
Aches and pains: Frequent complains of unexplained body aches and headaches.
Withdrawn/isolation: Loss of interest in usual activities and keeping away from friends and family.
Negative thought patterns: Low self esteem, self criticisms and self loathing .
Anger: Angry outburst, disruptive behavior or being irritable .
Changes in appetite; Decrease appetite or increased appetite.
Vices: Drinking Alcohol, watching porn, smoking, and drugs
Preoccupation with death and dying: Reoccurring dreams of death, interest in dark morbid movies and music.
If your teenager exhibits one or more of these signs for any length of time , you may need to probe further by having a conversation your child. Talking with your teenager and drawing out feelings and emotions will help you determine if your child is going through the ups and downs of teenage years or suffering from depression .
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION IN TEENAGERS?
There are many causes of depression in teenagers and adults . It can all be grouped under three causes .
Hormonal imbalances and deficiencies during the adolescent years contributes to depression. Sometimes it’s also genetic and inherited.
The mind controls the body. Stress affects the way we think and process the events of life.
Changes within the family such as a divorce or death.
Financial difficulties or illness can be very stressful .
A house move in the middle of a school year,
Bullying or any traumatic event can trigger depression.
New studies reveal that excessive use of mobile phones are creating stress in Teenagers. The more time teenagers spend on-line the more depressed they become .
Depression is a mental sickness brought about by believing thoughts and feelings which are not true. Our faulty interpretation of things that happen to us if not quickly corrected become strongholds of the enemy. Negative thoughts and suggestions are weapons the enemy wields to steal our peace and joy.
A prescription for treating depression in both adults and Adolescents can be found in 1st kings Chapter 19.
Battle weary after confronting Jezebel and killing 450 prophets of Baal the prophet Elijah became depressed and longed for death. God treats Elijah’s depression in a holistic approach. His prescription covers all three aspect of Elijah’s life, his body, soul and spirit.
Rest: 1 kings 19 vs 5 “Elijah prayed to the Lord and Laid down to rest.
Nourishment: 1 kings 19 vs 6-7 “He was woken up twice by angels to eat.
Exercise: 1 kings 19 vs 8 “He walked 40 days and 40 nights to mount Horeb and was strengthen.
Counselling: 1 kings 19 vs 9-18 “The Lord counselled him by asking pertinent questions which helped him correct his faulty thinking.
Note that the Lord did not Ignore Elijah, dismiss his symptoms or make it about himself.
Now let’s apply God’s prescription to your depressed teenager.
Matthew 11 vs 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give rest
Pray with your depressed teenager and encourage him/her to have a personal relationship with God. They need to see God active in their parents lives so make sure you are living your faith.
Depression is characterised by feelings of hopelessness and helplessness . Faith in God gives Hope and certainty that despite the present difficulties, tomorrow will be alright. Faith is resting on God’s love and promises for us. Teenagers need to have faith that can sustain them through the worst of times.
Psalm 103 vs 5 “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Most depressed people are either over eating or not eating enough. Poor nutrition especially during the adolescent years can affect the mood.
Make sure your teenager is eating a balance and nutritious diet. You can have some blood work done to detect deficiencies or any other problem that could be effecting them.
Supplements may go a long way in treating some of these deficiencies. Make sure your teenager takes them if they are prescribed.
Anti depressant may also be prescribed, according to your physician’s discretion.
Hebrews 12 vs 12-13 “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Exercise strengthens the body. A simple 30 minutes walk can lift the spirit and clear the fog in the mind.
Encourage your teenager to get off the phone and become more involved in activities outside the home.
Camp meetings, sport programs, dance and acting groups, music and church programs are all avenues you can explore.
Proverbs 11 vs 14 “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Get your depressed teenager into Counselling. Counselling will get your teenager talking, expose negative thought patterns and clear out faulty perceptions of themselves and their relationships.They will learn coping skills and develop positive out look to life challenges.Talking with someone trained to ask pertinent questions will expose the hidden issues and your teenager will learn how to discern lies from truth.
2 Corinthians 10 :5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Depression is a battle of the mind in both Adults and Teenagers. In overcoming depression teenagers will need an active trust in God and his love for us. Learning to identify faulty and wrong thinking is vital to recovery.
As parents we need to encourage our teenager to learn the word of God for themselves. That way they will have a solid foundation they can fall back on even in the most trying of times.
May the Lord strengthen you and grant you and your household peace.