Action steps: for teens and families transitioning out of depression and anxiety
Edited by Liz Lawrence, LPC, LPC-S
These action steps may be helpful to keep nearby. There are action steps for the teen, for the parents, and resources for both. The action steps come from books by Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Chap Clark.
Teens Transitioning Out of Depression and Anxiety
Some Things to Consider:
- Attending and taking part in family or sibling group sessions with a trusted professional counselor to help with increasing support and specific strategies
- Learn new/improved ways of recognizing and expressing feelings. Possible resources include Parenting with Intimacy* and Emotional Responding*. Games that could help include The Ungame (from the Ungame Company) or The Talking, Feeling and Doing Game (from Childswork)
- Attending and taking part in individual counseling sessions to focus on strengthening confidence in Christ, managing anxiety symptoms, decreasing depression, improving life-transition skills and Biblical self-esteem. Possible focus area could be on discussion about family illnesses. Therapy could also include some creative uses of music, film, art and be outside typical counseling spaces.
9 Action steps for the teen:
- Be honest with respect
- Be honest about your feelings and learn how to share them respectfully
- Learn tools to use that help you with identifying and sharing your feelings, some tools may be journaling, the Emotional Cup*, Emotional Responding*
- Confront your own thought patternsIt is important to invite God to help renew your mind, especially around negative thought patterns and unhealthy beliefs
- Do your part in maintaining truly peaceful relationships with respectful sharing, but don’t create a false peace that can come from bottling up feelings
- Learn new ways to ponder things you care about that can be positive rather than anxiety producing
- Talk to God about the way you feel
- God wants you to come to Him just where you are, with what is going on within you
- Find out more about who God (his character) is so you can learn to trust Him more
- Watch for triggers and learn new paths
- Identify those things that can trigger an emotional or behavioral switch
- Learn new ways to respond and process the thoughts, emotions, and concerns
- Learn new ways to share with caring others when triggers occur so you can process them with others
- Find a trusted mentor or someone to disciple you
- People who typically help teens through these stages include youth leaders, youth pastors, trusted adults who have been through similar situation and resolved it well
- Surround yourself with positive, healthy social support in friends
- Maintain the 5 basics for whole-person health
- Input, Output, Sleep, Social and Spiritual areas need regular attention so you can be the real you more often than not
- Eat well for your body, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, relax and have fun with others, learn to grieve sadnesses and celebrate joys, connect and receive from God on a regular basis that work in this season of life
- Tackle the root of fear, anxiety, stress and depression
- Be intentional about who you truly are and invite God to help you release anything that hinders you
- Counselors can help you wade through these hindrances in ways that you can trust
- Be encouraged! Re-training any patterns that increase these experiences can take as little as 7 days and be set in your brain after 21 days
- Connect with your parents
- Know that your parents love you even though their actions or requests might not make sense
- Help your parents understand you. Though you don’t have to share your deepest thoughts with your parents, do share details from your day, your hopes or concerns
- Do something every so often to honor your parents. Wash the car, clean something without being asked, schedule a time for lunch or an activity together, or email them a card of appreciation
- Seek God’s guidance
- Building a relationship with parents and others takes time, grace, love and truth
Consider using these Scriptures as portions of prayers or prayer starters:
Isaiah 41:10; 43:1-3; Philippians 4:5-7; Romans 8:35, 37-39; Matthew 5; Psalm 30:5, 11-12; Psalm 37:3-7; Psalm 91:3-6; Proverbs 3:5-6
Amen, Daniel, M.D. Change Your Brain, Change Your Body.
Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.
Elmore, Tim. Artificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenge of Becoming Authentic Adults. Jossey-Bass, 2012.
Friesen, et.al. Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You. Shepherd House.
Hart, Archibald D., and Catherine Hart-Weber. Stressed or Depressed: A Practical and Inspirational Guide for Parents of Hurting Teens. Thomas Nelson, 2006. And The Anxiety Cure.
Jackson, Nisha. Helping Teens Survive the Hormone Takeover: A Guide For Moms. Thomas Nelson, 2006.
Leaf, Dr. Who Switched Off My Brain. www.drleaf.com
Scazzero, Peter. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. www.emotionallyhealthy.org
Schab, Lisa M. The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help you Deal with Anxiety and Worry. 2nd ed., rev. New Harbinger, 2008.
Townsend, John. Boundaries with Teens. Zondervan, 2007.
Vernick, Leslie. Defeating Depression: Real Hope for Life-Changing Wholeness. Harvest House, 2009.