In my senior year of high school I started going to bed wishing that I would just not wake up in the morning and felt down all the time. Things that I had worried about only a little or not all before suddenly became huge concerns. It was like I no longer had the ability to be happy.
The summer after graduation my depression and anxiety became even worse. I hardly left my house the entire summer. Eventually my parents noticed that there was something wrong. They insisted I go to a doctor, but didn't make me get counseling.
I tried to pretend that everything was better for my parents benefit, but the stress of the move to college in the fall was extremely hard on me. Eventually, since I had less time to be alone and think about things, I felt somewhat better. But my problems with depression and anxiety were far from over. I didn't want get help because I thought no one would understand. I was afraid they would think that I was crazy and I didn't want anyone else to look at me differently or judge me.
During the summer after my sophomore year of college I was plunged into the deepest depression I had ever experienced. I cried myself to sleep every night and even thought about suicide. I knew that I was at the end of my rope. I had to get help.
I started seeing a therapist that I discussed all of the craziness that was going on inside my head and body with. I learned that the depression wasn't my fault; it was caused by a chemical imbalance in my brain, and probably contributed to by a family history of depression. The same feelings that made me feel like I was going crazy actually were similar to ones experienced by thousands of other people in the world suffering from clinical depression and anxiety disorders.
As parents it is important to be on the look-out for signs that your child or teen may be suffering from depression. Your child may be too embarrassed to seek out help on their own, like I was, or not even know what to do with the emotions that they are experiencing.
Child psychologist and author of Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking Tamar Chansky says, "consult your child's pediatrician to insure that there is nothing physically wrong-- sleep deprivation, thyroid problem, poor diet or excessive weight loss. The pediatrician can then refer parents to an appropriate child psychologist who specializes in cognitive-behavior therapy, the treatment of choice for depression. Medication can be prescribed if needed by the pediatrician or a psychiatrist."
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