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Parenting is difficult. Children don’t come with manuals and we often have to figure things out as we go, through trial and error. It is not uncommon for parents who have children with anxiety or depression to feel overwhelmed or not know where to go for help. Please read below for some tips for parents who have pre-teens and teens who struggle with depression and anxiety:

  • Look for behavioral changes or patterns such as not sleeping well, shutting down in conversations, a drop in grades, sudden irritability, being quieter than usual, isolation from friends and family, loss of interest in hobbies or activities.
  • Talk to their friends, teachers, coaches or others who may notice a change in your child. Getting another person’s opinion who does not live in the house can be beneficial and insightful.
  • Think about family history. Are there family members on either side of the family who struggle with depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses? If there is and you have noticed a significant shift in behavior, there could be a chance your child is also struggling with symptoms.
  • If there has been a family member who has completed suicide, this makes your child more at risk. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they are having thoughts of suicide or self-harming thoughts. Early intervention is key to help managing these thoughts and urges.
  • Remember, teens are impulsive and act on their emotions. They don’t necessarily understand what is happening to them or why they feel the way they do. Due to their impulsivity, they are at higher risk for following through with self-harming thoughts, suicidal thoughts, or abusing substances to cope with their thoughts and emotions.
  • Consider getting professional help with therapy or seeing a psychiatrist. Sometimes it is easier to start with your child’s primary care doctor for their opinion or for a referral. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and often times, medication is needed. Therapy can help greatly when dealing with anxiety and or depression as coping skills can be learned and practiced.
  • When a higher level of care is needed, an intensive outpatient program can be very helpful. This level of care typically meets for approximately three hours per day, three days per week for six to seven weeks. The emphasis is on learning coping skills to manage emotions, be more effective interpersonally, communication skills, distress tolerance, changing negative thinking patterns, problem-solving skills, goal setting among others.

Erin Pawlak, MS, LPCC Therapist & Adolescent IOP Director

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The Behavioral Wellness Group is a counseling center providing therapy and behavioral health services and assessment including chemical dependency/drug addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and other therapies. We also provide mental health or psychological assessments, and psychological,educational and bariatric testing. Providing services to the following communities in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake County: Cleveland, Ashtabula, Beachwood, Chardon, Concord, Eastlake, Euclid, Fairport, Geneva, Grand River, Highland Heights, Kirtland, Leroy, Lyndhurst, Madison, Mayfield, Mayfield Heights, Painesville, Pepper Pike, Perry, Russell, Solon, South Euclid, Thompson, Wickliffe, Willoughby, Willoughby Hills, and Willowick, from our offices in Mentor, Ohio.