A’s and B’s

It can be difficult to guide your child about making a decision to start therapy if their grades are already suffering. How can they afford the time to go to all of the sessions? Especially if they have to miss school? Is it worth it?

If your child already has good grades, it might seem unnecessary for them to go to therapy, because good grades means they are functioning well, right? Well … grades are only one part of their life. They might be struggling in other parts, such as their relationships with others and their relationship with themselves. Some young people also try working harder at school as a way to deal with their emotions. There are other important ways of functioning—see our past article talking about this.

If, on the other hand, your child’s grades are getting worse because of their symptoms, can they afford to miss school for therapy?

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How your child can use mindfulness every day: Part 2

In a previous post we talked about a situation where your child could use mindfulness if they feel stressed out before a job interview. We also told you about some great websites to check out in that post. Let’s say you read about mindfulness, even listened to some audio, and now you are about to respond to your child’s text, asking for some support – what could they do?


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How your child can use mindfulness every day: Part 1

We have written about mindfulness before, but how can you and your child practice it everyday?

Your child just applied for a summer job at a small independent toy store. They called him yesterday and asked if he can come in for a short interview today with the manager. He acted excited leaving the house for the interview. He just texted you:

About to go in. Mom, I’m so nervous! What do I do??

What can you tell your son?MindfulnessEvery day we experience emotions and sometimes they take our bodies and minds into directions we hadn’t planned to go. But they are part of being a human. So what can we do? Luckily there are some tools you can show your child and together, you can use these tools to help regulate these emotions.

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Because I didn’t feel like I deserve to get better

In interviews I did with adolescents who have depression and were in treatment, some of them said that at first, they didn’t want to go to therapy because they didn’t feel like they deserved to get better.  This was so sad to me because guilt and shame like feeling like you don’t deserve something are actually symptoms of depression.


The fact that they were feeling that way is exactly why they needed to get help. Because they felt they are bad. But they are not bad. They needed some help to feel better and feel that their life is worth living.

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Too scared to get help

When your child feels anxious, some things that are not challenges to others can seem like huge mountains for them. You might feel like it is something they just need to snap out of but no matter what you say, you can’t seem to calm them down. They are upset and their body language shows it. It is too much for both of you to handle so you push it aside to think about later.

Photo Credit: Marcus Rahm via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Marcus Rahm via Compfight cc

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Would you just stand there?

Photo Credit: playability_de Flickr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: playability_de Flickr via Compfight cc

The other day I was in the university bakery and someone started to have a panic attack. Once you are practicing medicine for a while, telling between “sick” and “not sick” becomes an instinct. It means you know by pure observation how much to worry that someone is in a life-threatening situation. If you are talking and screaming, I know you are breathing very well. If you are holding yourself up on the counter and your cheeks are flushed, I know you have good strength and enough blood flow going to your muscles, skin, and brain. I know not to worry.

The problem was that other people not in medicine should not know that, yet everyone (almost all young college students) stood around staring and ignoring this person as he screamed for water. I looked around for water but before I saw it, a young woman quickly brought over a bottle. I told the young person having the attack I was a doctor and to take some deep breaths and sit on the floor. He said, “Its OK, I get panic attacks. I’m feeling better,” and his cheeks started to lighten. The young woman said, “I have anxiety too!”

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Antidepressant Warnings

Its important to understand the risks of taking any medication. But its also important to understand where those risks came from.

For antidepressants, there is a black box warning on antidepressants for children and young adults – which is a warning put out by the  Food and Drug Association meaning that it might cause serious injury.

Photo Credit: Jose Miguel Calatayud via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Jose Miguel Calatayud via Compfight cc

This warning is based on research studies which looked at the possible risks of taking an antidepressant.  The research studies done on medication are usually randomized controlled trials. The researchers will set certain rules about who can be in the study. Then once they agree to be in the study, the person is randomly selected to either get the real medicine or a fake medicine (placebo) which looks the same – or sometimes a different medicine. In the best studies, neither the patient nor the healthcare provider evaluating how well they are doing  know which medicine they received. (See this link for more information explaining clinical trials.)

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Is it serious?

It can sometimes be tough to figure out how serious a mental health problem is – especially in the beginning for a teenager. If you try to think about physical health problems, sometimes there are different tests to help figure it out – blood work, images, math equations taking into account different things like how old you are, what other health problems you have, etc. Then the doctor might come back and say,

listen if you don’t take this medicine, you’re probably going to get diabetes.

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