Breaking the Depression Cycle

Seem as though your child’s life is collapsing inwards?

As their misery continues, you anxiously worry about what they will do next.

It’s been weeks since they left the house. Tears soak the sheets. Meals are inedible and tasteless.

Tomorrow looks like another day wallowing in hopelessness and despair.

Their life feels pointless. They struggle to make friends, schoolwork seems too difficult, and they pick fights with classmates. They’re generally angry or upset for reasons they can’t understand.

You know they are unhappy, but every attempt to help them resolve their inner conflict ends with more bursts of anger, pools of tears, and doors slammed in your face. Another child goes to school every day, smiles at peers, raises their hand during lessons, completes all their schoolwork, and plays with friends in the yard at recess.

Sad boy in need of child therapy, New City, NY

Everything appears fine, until you take a closer look.

Eager to please their family, friends, and teachers, they’ve squelched the inner turmoil brewing inside.

But when they get home from school, the burden of trying to show everyone things are “fine” is finally lifted.

They are free to cry in their room, staring aimlessly at the television, or show anger toward family when asked about their day or encouraged to play.

As time goes on, the cracks begin to show. Schoolwork suffers as the effort put in diminishes. Sometimes the effort to wake to go to school is too hard. They make excuses for why they can’t see friends.

And thoughts grow darker as they struggle alone with increasingly scary thoughts.

Mother consoling depressed child, New City, NY

Children and teens experience depression differently than adults.

Children have difficulty expressing feelings in words. You may see more crying, clinginess, low energy, or aggression.

Teens often won’t express their feelings aloud. They quietly withdraw from friends and family and struggle to concentrate at school. But inside, they may feel hopeless, restless, or worthless.

Understanding the signs, being supportive, and making a safety plan are important first steps toward helping them overcome depression.

Sad girl receiving support from child therapy, New City, NY

Depression can be insidious, creeping in and out of life over time.

Depression might not be obvious, because it doesn’t always appear all at once. Symptoms can happen over time. You might not even notice the changes – until you see your child reach the point where they no longer enjoy everyday situations.

Sadness, feeling down, and losing interest in daily activities can happen to anyone. It often makes sense to feel unhappy when experiencing rejection, disappointment, or failure.

But it’s a problem if these feelings last over weeks, months, or even years.

Teen girl getting therapy, New City, NY

Therapy gives a fresh perspective that leads to healing.

Addressing the thoughts

There is a connection between anxiety and depression. When you experience one, it usually affirms the presence of the other.

As one struggles with depressive thoughts, they tend to avoid situations that make them feel worse. As they avoid uncomfortable situations, feelings of incompetence and worthlessness increase.

For instance, a child who is failing in school may believe they are incapable and worthless. This belief leads them to deal with the situation by avoiding schoolwork, so assignments pile up and go uncompleted.

As the work accumulates with no plan of attack, this confirms their earlier thoughts they are incompetent and incapable.

The negative feedback in their mind becomes a vicious cycle of depressive and anxious thoughts, falsely confirmed by the external pressures mounting around them.

Addressing anxiety and depression simultaneously helps break the cycle.

It’s important for children to feel validated when facing longstanding negative thoughts. This problem may have been going on for years unaddressed.

In therapy, we will address the thoughts and behaviors that continue to have devastating effects on their life by understanding their origin and how they continue to manifest in daily situations.

Then we will discover how to diminish their importance and increase positive feedback and action to move forward.

Therapy for teen with depression, New City, NY

“Decluttering” one’s mind

Depressive thoughts can feel like a house full of garbage. The thoughts have piled up, and they’re not sure which ones are good and which ones should be thrown away. Like most children, they’ve never been keen on cleaning anyway!

It’s hard to clean up the mess of negative emotions swimming inside one’s mind when they’ve there for so long, seem to have a purpose, and are constantly being given credibility by one’s circumstances and actions.

It’s easy to let it all go and sit comfortably in a mess.

Until someone else points out that the mess needs to be tidied and cleaned, one can get used to the clutter of self-defeating thoughts. They can actually feel content.

But it’s an illusion perpetrated by false comfort and diminished resources and effort. Once we start picking things apart, we recognize how negative thoughts have accumulated, what keeps them relevant, and positive attributes that can be salvaged and given priority.

For example, a child who has been rejected by peers may have accumulated enumerative negative affirmations – to the point that they have relegated any positive characteristics to the bottom of the pile. Once we begin to bring order to their mind, we can begin to form a plan to bring positive thoughts to the surface.

Developing insights

Once some order is restored, a child can begin to understand the importance of prioritizing positive thoughts and emotions.

They begin to understand the negative ones bring them deeper into despair and the positive thoughts move them closer to what they want.

Gaining clarity

A child living with depression does not know what it feels like to be whole and complete. They’ve lived for so long in chaos and misery that this feels like a good place to be.

As things become clearer, negativity, sadness, and depression become undesirable and obsolete. Instead, they have a vision for the future, which looks positive and optimistic.

Creating a plan

Depression may have been living in your child for quite some time, making itself relevant and important. But its foothold can slowly be torn down.

Once you give a name to depressive thoughts and the cycle of self-affirming negative thoughts and actions that keeps them there has been spoken for, we can start to discover how to make them less relevant for your child.

We will discover your child’s strengths that will help them defeat depression’s reign. And anytime the thoughts creep in, we will challenge them by successfully recognizing all the steps they take toward getting their life to a positive and fulfilling place.

It takes courage and honesty to embrace change.

Help for depression is about getting momentum back.

Your child has been stuck in a never-ending cycle of negative thoughts and actions. It takes courage to climb out of the hole that’s been dug.

It’s easy to believe the journey ahead is unsurmountable because the depressive thoughts “tell” them they cannot move forward.

Depression gives them an out not to put forth the effort, so they stay stuck in place.

When your child is ready to stand up to the negative thoughts, they have a purpose and a mission.

Therapy for depressed girl, New City, NY

The trick is not to let the dips in the road deter them.

When your child makes strides to rejoin pleasurable activities, they will speak up against the depressive thoughts keeping them down. They will say things like, “I’m worthy. I deserve happiness.” But at any setback, the negative thoughts may take over again and say, “See, we knew you couldn’t do it.”

Knowing that change doesn’t happen easily, your child will embrace the difficulties by recognizing impediments are part of making progress.

They will speak honestly about what is holding them back. Perhaps they did not practice their positive self-statements. And they begin believing the thoughts of worthlessness running through their mind. Or they yell at a sibling out of frustration when they lose at a game.

But even small steps toward positive thoughts and actions, like calling a friend, reaching out to a parent when upset, or reassuring themselves of their worth when they feel self-conscious, help them push onward so they can achieve the success they deserve.

It’s not always easy, but if your child does the work to understand the problem and remains determined to find a solution, they can do it!

Teens receiving therapy for depression, New City, NY

There’s a way up, and early action is the key.

I help kids free themselves from thoughts that keep them locked in despair, so they can experience more joy and fulfillment now and in the future.

Let’s work together to free them from the weight holding them down – from the negative thoughts keeping them from being compassionate to themselves.

There’s a whole world of exciting possibilities and life enjoyment out there!

Teens feeling better after therapy sessions for depression, New City, NY

Want to know where to start?

In our work together, we will uncover what is missing from your child’s life, what’s holding them back in worry and despair, and what are the ways we can help them move toward a place of happiness and fulfillment.

We provide convenient online sessions.

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