Danielle (left) and Elizabeth (right)

Elizabeth and Danielle, a mother and daughter from Florida, were recently featured on our Teen Depression webinar. They discussed Danielle’s experience with depression and treatment. Elizabeth provided insight into the parent perspective.

We received so many questions during the webinar that we did not have time to answer them all. Check out Elizabeth and Danielle’s story on our Teen Depression Webinar and read their follow up answers below.

Question: What was your first step for finding treatment? Did you start with your pediatrician?

Danielle: I began with a social worker who tried helping me with therapy then realized I needed to be on medication. We talked to our pediatrician later and he helped us out a lot.

Question: Danielle, were you still able to be social at school or did your anxiety and depression cause you to withdraw?

Danielle: I was withdrawn at school, but I tried my best to be social. The kids at school didn’t really help so I rode solo for a while.

Elizabeth: The anxiety caused Dani to question herself, so she would opt to stop participating in social interactions and became known as “the quiet one.” This isolated her and increased the depression.

Question: How did you readjust your parenting after Danielle’s diagnosis?

Elizabeth: My children were always expected to respect authority, each other and, above all, their parents. There was no arguing or whining or else there would be consequences. Now, I have changed my expectations. I want Danielle to speak up to advocate for herself, and those lessons start at home. There are no longer penalties for her when she respectfully disagrees with me. I remind myself to hear her and place my ego to the side for a moment.

Question: What role did the local school play? Did they provide any accommodations to help Danielle deal with her anxiety and depression at school?

Danielle: The school provided me with a 504 plan. (Note: A 504 plan is developed to ensure that children with disabilities receive accommodations in school to help them achieve academic success.) It gave me extra time to finish my homework and complete my tests. They also let me leave the classroom and talk with a counselor.

Elizabeth: It took us a very long time to get attention from the school. Her symptoms were discrete and she did not have behavior problems. She was easy to forget. If you are a parent in a similar situation, I suggest that you stay on the school counselor, social worker, and principal. Be loud and fight for your child.

Question: How can teachers help support students who suffer from depression?

Danielle: All students want from a teacher is for them to listen and understand. They want to know that if they tell you something they won’t be judged or sent to a random person to deal with their problems.

Elizabeth: Find a way to build a relationship with each child. That way you will know if they are acting out of character and you can find a way to help them. If you discover a talent, foster it, and let the other students see the child’s value.

Question: What final advice do you have for families?

Elizabeth: Danielle is healing is because of her family. We have formed a strong community, I have scrutinized all her providers, and I have ensured that her strengths are nurtured and recognized. Hope comes with each moment that she feels safe, each moment when she likes herself. Hope comes with each moment that she moves towards happiness.

Elizabeth’s Method of Engaging Danielle:

  1. Listen to her words, and affirm that she’s being heard through your actions.
  2. Remove or limit social media, but substitute it with something constructive (martial arts, music, sports)
  3. Surround her with positive older role models (aunts, siblings, uncles, family friends)
  4. Do not allow her to isolate herself, but let her choose how she participates in social interactions.
  5. If she goes quiet, find a way to draw her out. Direct questions don’t work. Get out of the house, get ice cream, throw a ball, shopping… anything to redirect her. Insist on talking about it, but be calm, and loving.

Additional Resources

  • Register today to hear more from Elizabeth and Danielle in our free Teen Depression Webinar.
  • Looking for ways you can encourage and support teen wellness? Check out Matthew Selekman’s, MSW, LISCW, suggestions in this blog.
  • Know a teen living with depression or bipolar disorder? Connect them to our Instagram by teens and for teens! This is a great place for teens to receive messages of hope and share their experiences of managing wellness.