You’re worried. I get it.
Your teenage daughter (or son) is in meltdown…
Perhaps they can’t sleep or they might even sleep too much – to escape the world…
And when they are not hiding away in planet bedroom, you may be on the receiving end of snappy reactions, tearful outbursts or slamming doors.
It can feel like the safest and (dare I say it!) easiest option is to get them to the GP for some anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants.
BUT I urge you to re-consider such a seemingly quick fix.
A prescription for anti-depressants for your teen should in my view be a last resort or at the very least, a means to stabilise short term whilst other supportive measures are put in place.
…Because anxiety is a cry for help from deep within the autonomic functioning of the body – the subconscious mind. Often it is an indication that the way we are thinking or acting in our lives is not aligned with who we are. Identity struggles in young adults are a challenge.
Anxiety indicates that the nervous system is under stress for some reason; that stress hormones are raging and physiologically the body and mind are out of balance. There is a conflict between what the head wants and the heart wants.
Hormone imbalance is of course a factor too.
…Because putting your teen on anti-anxiety medication sends a message that something is wrong with ‘them’ and that it is ‘they’ who are out of balance and unstable and not (which is true in nearly all cases) the dynamic at home or in their education.
…Because it increases a sense of isolation, that it’s just ‘their’ problem.
…Because if they are conditioned to take meds, and the meds don’t make enough of a difference, they feel more helpless and even ‘beyond help.’
…Because worryingly some side effects of anti-anxiety can increase psychological instability and make self-harm more likely.
…Because taking anti-depressants comes with a label – which short term (to fit in with all their peers also taking meds) feels perhaps a smidge cool? However into the long term it can create stigma and be hard to shake off.
… Because taking meds creates an illusion that the ‘fix’ is always outside of them. This creates powerlessness and diminishes self-esteem as a result.
Don’t reach for medication so readily. Rather than giving your gorgeous teenager an excuse not to take responsibility for their emotions, take steps to encourage healthy communication instead.
…Because YOU are their primary bond – and that’s the person with the most influence in their life.
When you work on creating a safe space where you are ‘open’ to ‘really listening’ and listen actively without judgement, it forges a deeper connection and lets vulnerability find a way through.
(So long as you resist jumping in with unsolicited advice or the good old
“I told you so ;)”
If it’s hard for you to listen properly, you might perhaps consider getting help with a therapist to guide and mediate between you. In my professional experience, family therapy offers a greater benefit to your teen instead of simply individual sessions.
…Because when your teenager begins to feel heard and understood, it builds self-esteem and self-worth.
…Because it eliminates the possibility of your teen entering adult life dependant on drugs, albeit pharmaceutical.
…Because your teen begins to learn that it’s ok to safely express emotion and by doing so, they learn to manage the complexities of teenage emotion.
…Because your teen gradually gets comfortable to express their wants and needs. They begin to grasp what really isn’t working for them; this conditions them to take action towards finding solutions to problems.
…Because I guarantee you what your teen most needs in the whole world right now is…
To Be Listened To; To Feel Heard.
In fact, the number one ‘all time complaint’ of most teenagers is that they don’t feel heard or understood.
Together we can raise healthier and more confident young adults, ready to embrace responsibility. I hope you agree that honest and open communication is the answer.
Do you? I’d love to know. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org – that will make my day!
Anyway, enough for now. Something to ponder on perhaps? I hope this helps you.