Are Worldly Possessions Enough to Keep Teens Happy?
You have a nice house; a mansion actually. You also possess several nice cars, season tickets to the local ball clubs, an indoor pool, and you can go on family vacations to exotic locations. Also, your daughter has a room of her own; almost like a hotel suite, actually. You give her everything she wants – so, how can she possibly feel depressed?
That’s a good question and a bad question as well. It’s a good question because the first hurdle to helping your daughter with her depression will be to educate you on what depression is. It’s also a bad question because it insinuates that you believe you can purchase your way out of depression. “How can she be depressed? We just bought her a new car.”
What Is Depression?
In its most clinical analysis, depression is an imbalance or shortage of the following hormones/neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, and nor-epinephrine. The causes of this hormonal imbalance include emotional stress, genetic propensity, and even improper diet. This means that depression can occur even when there is no obvious reason to be depressed.
Depression in your teen isn’t something to take lightly. Let’s look at some possible causes of depression in a teen.
1. Emotional Distress
Emotional distress among teenagers doesn’t respond well to patronizing comments that point out the obvious. Whether you believe it or not, teens have every capability to have a broken heart, hurt feelings, anxiety, and stress; they just don’t always have the coping mechanisms to deal with such feelings. As they try to meet these emotions head on, it takes a toll on their serotonin, dopamine, and nor-epinephrine reserves. They become sad, unmotivated, and even unreasonable.
High sugar diets can really mess with body chemistry. In saying that, some in the medical community will disagree, some won’t know, while others will heartily agree. There is a very good reason why people go for Twinkies and chocolate when they are unhappy. Carbs boost the above hormones temporarily, but there is a crash afterward. You tried to teach your kids to eat right when they were young. This is even more important during adolescence.
Drugs are chemicals that produce artificial emotions and highs by manipulating your brain chemistry and hormones. Some drugs boost serotonin and other hormones for a super happy high. Long-term consequences may include the inability to reach and maintain normal hormone levels without a drug. This not only creates a highly addictive state, but it can also create severe and dangerous depression without the surrogate drug.
Last of all, genetic propensity can make all the above worse. When there is some abnormality in the genes that cause hormonal imbalance, it is easier for emotional distress to take a heavier toll. Here, diet becomes even more important, and even a couple of trips down the recreational drug lane can create systemic havoc.
In simple terms, depression and related maladies can make a good kid appear bad and a troubled teen appear to be hopeless. Low serotonin may create inexorable sadness; low nor-epinephrine can rob a person of any motivation; and low dopamine may deprive your child of the ability to reason.
In the midst of this chemistry experiment gone wrong, your child is struggling to understand why, to cope, and to pull out of a tailspin. Believing that they can think their way out of this condition won’t help. It’s vital to encourage your child to see a physician, to get support, and to obtain answers. These elements are out there and are vital in saving your depressed child.
Claire Smith is a freelance blogger and a nurse who specializes in psychiatry. She writes for RedCliff Ascent, which offers a wilderness program that can help teens who are dealing with depression and other psychological or mental distress.