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Depression

Question

I am the mother of a 19 year old girl currently diagnosed with depression and she is currently taking anti-depressants as part of her treatment. As a caregiver, I would like to understand her needs better and ways in which I am able to support my daughter; what would my advice to her be other than be strong, and to accompany her on her regular visits to her psychiatrist? How much later will it be before she fully recovers and be herself again?

mooddisorder2 

Answer

Helping an adolescent with depression has to be approached from a multimodal perspective. Antidepressant medication helps alleviate the negative impact of stress and
improves mood by changing the neurotransmitters in the brain associated with depressed mood. Making sure that the adolescent has sufficient rest and proper nutrition helps. Going
outdoors and getting a healthy dose of sunlight will also help. In severe depression; the adolescent is extremely depressed, suicidal or withdrawn, a course of electro convulsive therapy
maybe indicated (and this has been shown to be safe even in this young age group).

But depression in adolescents is associated with many environmental factors that need to be considered. Helping her cope with these are important. Two kinds of therapy help specifically in adolescents. The first is cognitive behaviour therapy; in which the adolescent is taught to be more self aware of their feelings and to change their negative thought processes in a series of problem solving techniques. The second is interpersonal therapy which is talking treatment focused on relational issues and roles to help them understand and improve their feelings. The third area of would be to improve the adolescent’s social environment in school, at home and other social situations. This may not be always possible but one can take charge of one’s emotions and reactions and therapy normally allows one to be able to do this

The understanding and support from family and friends is extremely important to the patient’s recovery.For your daughter to know that she is not alone in this journey of recovery alone can be therapeutic for her. Building a strong relationship with your daughter may be the first thing you can do to be helpful. One can start by letting her know that you are concerned and will be there for her. You may want to encourage her to talk to you about what could be troubling her. Remember, one of the greatest gifts you could give to her is to LISTEN . Don’t minimize her concerns or be too quick to offer advice or comments. Asking her to be strong and not to worry may not be the best thing to say, as it may create feelings of guilt if she is unable to do so. Understand that sometimes, she may not be ready to talk. Do give her some space and let her know that she can come to you anytime when she wishes to talk to you. Learn about the illness. There is a lot of resources in the library and internet about depression. Accompany her to see the doctor wherever possible and speak to the doctor about any side-effects or concerns you may have with regard to the medication. During the visit, you may also speak with her Medical Social Worker to find out more about the different services which may be available to help your daughter or you as a caregiver. When she is better, you may want to encourage her to take part in activities which gives her pleasure. You may also wish to encourage her to spend time with her family and friends or you may offer to spend some fun time with her. Let her continue to do things which she is able and willing to, such as sports, school or even housework.

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