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Why Working is Good for Teens

Parents and teens, one of the best things you can do to alleviate depression, anxiety, and a struggle with identity and purpose is get a job. I know it adds stress in a certain way, but in my observations, teens who work have several things:
1. Increased confidence.
2. A better understanding of money.
3. Can talk to people with good eye contact.
4. Lower anxiety.
5. More friends.
6. A place where they belong outside school and home.
7. Discipline that isn’t coming from parents or teachers.
8. More realistic ambitions and goals.
9. A better sense of marketable skills when they choose a college major.
10. More purpose, which leads to lower anxiety and depression overall.

I know this isn’t a foolproof solution to every problem. However, it has made a huge positive difference in the lives of many of my clients. I think it’s worth a try.



Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Coping with COVID Restrictions- For Teens

This is hard. This is even harder on you if you’re a teenager in some ways. You feel constricted. You are missing things that gave your life value and meaning. For many of you this means you feel symptoms of depressed moods.

As hard as it may be, it’s important that you don’t get stuck in the “waiting place,” because that won’t help you feel any better.

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

What Does Teen Depression Look Like?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.ne

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Teen depression can look a bit different from adult depression.  In teenagers you might see more of a general irritability.  Adults typically notice they feel depressed because their dominant mood is sad.  Sometimes adolescent depression presents as sadness, but just as often it presents as consistent grouchy moods.

One thing I see in my therapy practice pretty regularly is parents struggling to believe their teenager is dealing with depression.  This is because the teen has moments where they smile and laugh.  They have times during the day when they come out of their depressed mood and engage with others around them.  Parents tend to assume that teens are only unhappy at home, or at school.  Teenagers with depression can be good at faking feeling okay.  Even while they are laughing, there is a dark cloud somewhere in the background.

Other signs your teenager could be dealing with depression include a change in appetite, a change in sleep patterns, and a decrease in socializing.  If you see your adolescent either stop eating or eat quite a lot and this is different from normal, it is possibly a sign of depression.  It could also be a symptom of many other things though, so don’t assume they are depressed solely based on a change in eating habits.  If your teenager is usually a good sleeper and now sleeps poorly or sleeps excessively, it is another possible symptom of depression (I know it sounds weird that it can be either interrupted sleep or excessive sleep since those are opposites, but people’s bodies react in different ways to depression).  Finally, if your teenager is withdrawing to their room all the time and no longer has an interest in seeing friends, this is another sign of possible depression.

One sign you definitely cannot overlook is when your teenager is either cutting or expresses thoughts of suicide.  These symptoms alone are often enough to diagnose depression.  Please get them help immediately in these situations.

Many teens experience profound anxiety at the same time as depression.  If your teenager is overwhelmed and cannot seem to get organized, this can be a sign of depression too.  When a person experiences depression it is really challenging to plan and execute.  What I mean by this is a person with depression might write down their homework assignments, but actually deciding which one to start first is so overwhelming that they just don’t start.  Then they fall behind, and it becomes even more cumbersome.

Teen depression is more complicated than I can describe in one 450 word blog post.  If you are concerned your teen is dealing with depression, please feel free to contact me.  I will chat with you on the phone to try and help you decide whether an evaluation by a professional is warranted.  As a parent it is always so hard to watch your kids struggle.  If you’re worried about your child, my heart hurts with you.

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Your Teen Still Needs to Socialize Despite COVID

“I’m so lonely and depressed,” are words I’ve started to hear on a regular basis. Our reduced social calendars due to COVID precautions have been positive in some ways, but for our teenagers this is hard. Teens need to socialize. I have more to say on the relationship between feeling depressed and our socially distant life right now in the short video below. I want us all to be extremely responsible, but we have to balance mental health and physical health. I’m sure that you, like me, are constantly considering how to balance these two things. Mental health is also extremely important, so what are we to do? I don’t have a perfect answer. My only goal for today is to gently remind you that your teenager has to see friends in some capacity to feel right.

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Teen Depression

Hi everyone, I have been receiving a lot of calls from parents worried their teenagers have depression. It is common during this pandemic and time of great uncertainty.

Teenagers who are facing depression can show it in a variety of ways. Your teenager might be irritable. While he used to like to come hang around you, now he only stays in his room. If you ask him to come out he expresses disgust and frustration that you would dare interrupt whatever he’s doing.

Your teenager might be sleeping poorly. Poor sleep can be too much sleep or too little sleep. Some depressed teens sleep all night and then take naps as well. Other depressed teens deal with insomnia or frequent waking at night.

You might notice your teen is no longer socially active. She used to see friends a lot and was always on her phone. Now your daughter is saying things like, “Nobody goes out because of COVID,” or “There’s nothing to do now because everything is closed.” Your teenager might be feeling as thought she doesn’t fit with anyone anymore. She also could be telling you that everyone is just shallow or stupid.

Of course one of the most glaring signs of teen depression is thoughts of suicide. If your teenager is texting about it to friends, writing about it in a journal, or talking about it then it’s serious. It’s tempting to assume it’s an attention grab; it very well might be but it’s the wrong way to get attention. If your teen is talking about suicide they need a professional evaluation imminently.

Our staff here at Teen Therapy OC has seen a huge increase in depression in teens since March. We believe the shut-down has been hard on them. While they might not have loved school, most of them miss the social aspects and having a clear purpose each day. Teenagers languish without direction. We adults also speak with so much uncertainty and negativity about everything happening right now that it leaves many of our teens extremely fearful for their future. They don’t have as much perspective as we do because they haven’t been through as many ups and downs in life. They’re too young to remember the Great Recession of 2008 so this feels like the first real crisis they’ve ever faced. It’s disheartening to them.

Please reach out and ask for help if you suspect your teenager is facing depression. We can help you sort out whether it’s clinical depression and in need of professional treatment.

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT