Counselling or talk therapy
During talk therapy, a therapist encourages the depressed teenager to talk about their feelings, habits, thoughts, behaviors, and relationships.
The therapist’s fundamental quality is to be non-judgemental. This releases the tension that the teenager can often be made to feel when talking to others. Obviously a depressed teenager doesn’t need more tension. Their depression already gives them enough.
A good therapist is able to truly listen to the depressed teenager, having freed themselves from the expectations, prejudices, duties, and models that the teenager is usually made to feel obligated to conform to. Simply, they should be free from anything can compromise the listening.
Carl Rogers strongly disagreed with the methods of many therapists, who treated their patients as machines needed to be fixed. In his ‘Way of being’, he talks about Ellen West; a depressed young woman who committed suicide. Carl was of the opinion that the methods of her therapy were actually the main cause of her tragic end.
Carl invented the person-centred approach, which considers a person as a fully human being, and not as a broken machine in need of repair. Since the conditioning of our society to consider ourselves as machines is so strong, I’m not sure that all therapists are independent enough to authentically relate to a teenager as a true human being.
Now we have many drugs effective in the treatment of depression. They have less and less side effects, with a decreased risk of dependency. Drugs are life-saving when depression in teenagers is at an advanced stage.
Depression in teenage originates from beliefs about oneself, fears, lack of faith in oneself, and a negative outlook towards reality. If our way of thinking about ourselves and reality is not challenged, our mind will continue to develop depressive feelings, once the drug-based therapy is finished. It’s important to investigate how our mind ‘creates’ depression in the first place.
Drugs can solve the effects of depression, but not the causes. Imagine you are in a boat with holes. Water is coming into the boat. You can have a pump to draw water out, but sooner or later you have to find the holes and repair them.
So, are drugs a solution to depression in teenage? Well, they can be a temporary solution if the depression is advanced, but they shouldn’t be considered as a ready-made cure.
What is utterly astonishing is that we need drugs to solve a psychological problem. This in itself should make us think. The increasing use of psychotropic drugs is a sign that we are running ourselves towards self-destruction. Our society needs a complete rethink.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapies prove very effective in treating depression. They are based on the idea that depressed people acquire a negative view of the world and of themselves in childhood. Rejection, criticism, extreme expectations and the depressive attitude of a parent or close relative can contribute towards this negative view.
With CBT the depressed teenager learns a new view of the world and of themselves. This view will be more objective and free from irrational beliefs about reality. The first incorrect belief we learn to reject through CBT, is the consideration that we are all machines.
What depression in teenage wants to tell us
“Man can’t stand his nullification forever, man cannot stand the meaninglessness of life” (C.G.Jung)
Depressed teenagers are saying: “What’s the point in living if we are forced to become well-oiled cogs in the production and consumption machine?”
They are also saying: “Why are you handing us a society which is against us, and presenting itself as good?”
And again: “Please, don’t treat us as you treat yourselves. We are not robots.”
Bearing in mind this message that depression in teenage is trying to give us, let me sketch out a few characteristics a good therapy should involve.
What any good therapy should include
Faith in ourselves
A good therapy for depression in teenage has to be fully human. Its main goal is to rebuild the faith in man that our sick Western culture is erasing. We need faith in ourselves even to fall asleep when we go to bed. We aren’t animals. Animals don’t need faith to fall asleep. Their instincts do the job for them.
Chemists and Pharmacists, are full of sleeping pills. This should make us think. We are losing faith in ourselves even for the simple act of sleeping. The fact that there are sleeping pills isn’t a positive advancement in medical science. Rather, it’s a worrying sign of the disintegration of mankind.
You can see, largely in Western cultures, mothers worryingly having to force their children to eat. Hunger should lead our children to eat, not force. Only a seriously ill child will be unable to self-regulate their need for food.
A mother nervously forcing her children to eat is denying them the opportunity to gain faith in themselves, and in their ability to self-regulate their food intake. We need faith in ourselves to live, and a denial of such should alarm us.
It is not only our eating habits that require us to have faith. Everything we do requires faith.
Respect of our human powers
We have many powers. Let’s list only a couple of them:
- power of choice
- power of asking ourselves ‘why’ and ‘what-for’
The best therapy for depression in teenage is respect. Let’s begin by respecting the teenager’s power of choice. Since they are young children, they should be given as many occasions to practice their power of choice as possible. It’s like exercising a muscle, the muscle of choice. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.
Will they make mistakes? Sure, who doesn’t? To be afraid of mistakes is to be afraid of life. They will make even more mistakes if their ‘choice muscle’ is not strong enough. Unfortunately there are cultures, or sub-cultures, where even adults have everything chosen for them. Their ‘choice muscle’ is weak, and they have difficulties using it when needed.
There are people in our lives who want to make every choice on our behalf. This could seem like a relief, but rather it is quite the opposite. They aren’t respecting our power of choice. They don’t want our ‘choice muscle’ to be strengthened. They want us to be weak. They don’t respect us, and are thus contributing to depression in teenage.
What about the power of asking ‘why’ and ‘what-for’?
How many parents are embarrassed and uncomfortable when their children begin to ask countless ‘why’s and ‘what-for’s? Could it be because we, the adults, have forgotten how to exercise the ‘muscle of thinking’? Could it be because we gave up using our own ‘muscle of thinking’?
This is to disrespect ourselves, as it is to not to respect our own power of thinking. If we don’t respect ourselves and our own powers, then we can hardly teach children to respect themselves. In this way we contribute to depression in teenage years without even knowing that we are doing it.
Where to go now?
- Back to the home page, Depression teens: a scary problem with an easy solution.
- From Depression in teenage: an overview of the possible treatments to Teenage mental health: Science can help us to know our teens. Scientific findings about motivation, attention and risk-taking behaviour in teenagers and why I find disquieting that we need science to understand teenagers.