Nurturing the Light Within: Understanding and Navigating Depression in Adults and Teens
As we approach the winter months, it’s important to recognize the unique challenges that depression poses for both adults and teens, and to explore strategies to manage symptoms and support well-being. Depression can cast a shadow over daily life, impacting not only individual mental health but also the dynamics of family, work, and school. In this blog, we seek to shed light on the symptoms of depression to monitor, and to offer insights and tips for managing depressed mood, focusing on strategies such as behavioral activation, nervous system regulation, creativity, and the power of connection.
Recognizing the Signs of Depression:
Depression can manifest differently in adults and teens, and it’s essential for both individuals and their loved ones to be aware of the common symptoms. These may include persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, decreased energy, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and a loss of interest in usual activities or hobbies. Teenagers may exhibit symptoms such as social withdrawal, academic decline, increased irritability, or expressions of worthlessness.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression with a seasonal pattern, and affects approximately 15% of Canadians, according to the Canadian Psychological Association. When days are shorter and the colder weather has many people indoors, it’s important to monitor symptoms and mood in general.
Monitoring Symptoms, Especially in Winter Months:
The winter season can exacerbate symptoms of depression due to decreased sunlight exposure and the potential for SAD. It’s important to monitor symptoms closely during this time, paying attention to changes in mood, energy levels, and overall well-being.
Additionally, for teens, the transition to a new school year and the associated stressors can impact their mental health. Earlier this year, the CBC cited the CDC’s 2021 Youth Risk Behaviour Survey and reported that rates for depression in teens are higher than they have been in a decade, with 57% of girls [female identified folks] felt “persistently sad or hopeless” and about 30% had seriously thought about suicide. It is crucial to provide support and understanding during this period.
Behavioral Activation: Nurturing Engagement and Meaningful Activities
One effective approach for managing depressed mood is behavioral activation, which involves fostering engagement in pleasurable and meaningful activities. Encouraging adults and teens to participate in activities they once enjoyed, as well as exploring new hobbies, can help counteract the impact of depression and bring moments of joy and fulfillment into daily life. Whether it’s engaging in art, music, sports, or spending time in nature, finding activities that resonate with the individual’s interests and passions can be a powerful antidote to depression’s heavy weight.
For more ideas of hobbies or activities to engage in, have a look at this list here.
Nervous System Regulation: Cultivating Calm and Balance
Supporting nervous system regulation is integral to managing depression. This can involve practices such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or yoga, which promote relaxation and balance within the mind and body. By incorporating these practices into daily routines, adults and teens can cultivate a sense of calm and resilience in the face of depressive symptoms, fostering a greater capacity to navigate the challenges that arise.
What is most important is noticing what state your nervous system is in, and if you are needing up-regulating or down-regulating activities. Once you have a sense of what may be needed, Youtube is a great resource for videos on breathwork for depression, like this one here, or a 5 minute daily breathwork practice here. If you are needing support mapping your nervous systems states, many of our therapists are informed in somatic practices and regulating strategies from a whole-person polyvagal perspective.
The Healing Power of Creativity: Expressing Emotions and Finding Connection
Artistic expression can provide a transformative avenue for managing depression, enabling adults and teens to channel their emotions and experiences into creative endeavors. Whether through visual arts, writing, music, or other forms of expression, creativity offers individuals a means to explore their inner world, find moments of solace, and connect with others who may share similar experiences. Engaging in creative activities can provide a pathway for self-discovery and healing, fostering a sense of empowerment and resilience.
The Importance of Connection: Building Support and Understanding
Amidst the depths of depression, the power of connection cannot be overstated. For adults and teens alike, nurturing supportive relationships and seeking understanding from trusted individuals can have a profound impact on mental well-being. Whether through family, friends, or professional support networks, fostering open communication and seeking compassionate understanding can provide a vital lifeline during the challenges of depression.
Professional Treatment Options:
In addition to self-care strategies, seeking professional guidance is essential for managing depression in adults and teens. Therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, can offer valuable support in understanding and addressing the underlying causes of depression, while also providing tools and strategies for building resilience and fostering positive change.
Medication May Be an Option:
In some cases, medication may be recommended as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for depression. It’s important for individuals and their families to engage in open dialogue with healthcare providers to explore the potential benefits and considerations of medication, ensuring that the treatment approach aligns with the individual’s specific needs and goals.
As we navigate the complexities of depression in adults and teens, it’s essential to approach this journey with compassion, understanding, and proactive support. By recognizing the signs of depression, engaging in mindful self-care, and seeking professional guidance, individuals can take meaningful steps towards nurturing their mental health and well-being. At Acorn Counselling, we stand ready to offer our expertise and compassionate support to empower adults and teens in their journey towards healing and resilience, fostering the nurturing of the light within.
If you are needing further support or exploration of your unique needs, please visit our booking page.