Self-Treatment for Teens


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When trying to treat your own depression, I usually present to clients sort of a hierarchy approach – we need to knock off the most important first that could be most impacting your depression. Number one is sleep. You have got to go to sleep. You got to try your very, very best to get eight to nine hours of sleep per night. A way that I recommend clients to do this is either to get a FitBit that tracks your sleep or you can just use an app on your phone – it’s really not that difficult. The second thing (once you’ve taken care of sleep) the second thing you need to do is you need to exercise. Research shows that exercise about 30 minutes, four to five times a week – it doesn’t have to be super strenuous. It could be a bike ride, could be a run, it could be following a yoga video on YouTube. If you do that, research has shown that it’s equally as effective for depression as antidepressants are. Sometimes you need both, but that’s a really good place to start. The third thing I would go to is looking at your sadness and looking at your anger. Depending on why you feel depressed right now – you might be super sad about a breakup, sad about your parents divorce, sad about your friends abandoning you at school – if you feel particularly sad about that, what I want you to do is write about it. Paint it. Find some creative outlet to use it up. What we want to do is not avoid the sadness and run away from it and try to distract ourselves, but rather: okay, I’m really, really sad today. Let me schedule in my calendar an hour to lay in bed and cry to Grey’s Anatomy or cry to sad music. We need to use it up – not all 24 hours, but just one hour a day. You’ve got to use up your sadness. And the same thing goes for anger. Depression can many times come from anger turned inwards. We’re angry at our parents, we’re angry at people at school, we’re angry at our teachers, we’re angry about a lot of things we can’t control. And so – screw all of it. We get angry at ourselves. I’m awful, I’m bad, I can’t do it well enough. My family’s a mess because of me. We need to try and turn that anger back outwards. That doesn’t mean screaming at your parents and other people, but writing – writing is my favorite way to do it. Write down a list of everything you’re angry about. Journal it. Try and get as much of that anger out of you as you can. Anger is much easier to process than depression itself. And the third tip – if you’ve done all of those things and they don’t seem to be working, next, I would look for a therapist. Talk to your parents, talk to your counselors at school, see if they’re willing to get a therapist and bring you to therapy. If that still doesn’t work, then what we do is we go to a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists can prescribe antidepressants or medicines that can help you feel better. If you’re way up at the top and haven’t tried any of these things yet and you feel really helpless, there’s a lot of things you can still do that we can really try to tackle these feelings and get you feeling better.

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