Sometimes when depression or anxiety lingers on for a long time, it may be more than just a passing mood or feeling. When this happens, talk about it, and get help.
Start the conversation:
- Talk to your parent(s) directly. Be specific. Tell them why you feel like you need extra support. If you are uncomfortable about having this conversation in person, write a letter. Maybe you don't think that you can do this on your own. If that is the case, ask a trusted adult like another relative, a teacher, your school counselor, your pastor, or your doctor to help you have this conversation.
- Don't assume that your family knows what you're thinking or feeling. They may sense that something is bothering you, but they may not understand that it is more than a passing feeling. If you have been telling them that “nothing" is wrong when they ask you, they may just think that you need your space and will talk to them when you are ready.
- Ask about your family history. Knowing if members of your family have struggled with their mental health and understanding what has helped them, can be beneficial when deciding what kind of help is right for you.
If you and your parent(s) feel that additional help may be a good choice for you, follow these steps to get professional support:
- Get a check-up. Doctors are experts at helping to sort out what is going on and if any of the feelings you are having could be related to your physical health. Often, doctors are well connected in the community and can make a recommendation for a counselor in your area.
- Find a counselor who can work with your schedule. You will want to find someone who can work around your school and/or work schedules, as well as your other activities.
- Look for someone with whom you can connect. When seeking professional help, you should always feel safe. You will want someone who helps you to find hope and challenges you to improve yourself. Counseling should be a judgement-free zone where you can heal.
- Find someone who can work with your family's financial/insurance situation. Many insurance sites offer listings and descriptions of the counselors that are covered by the plan. To access these listings, look at the website or call the phone number provided on your insurance card.
- Keep track of your own appointment times. Write them down in your agenda or schedule them in your phone. Remind your parent(s) if you need to. Take responsibility for being there and on time.
- Do the work. You will have to commit to wanting to get better. If the counselor gives you an assignment, or wants you to journal your thoughts and feelings, put forth the effort. You will only get out as much as you put into the counseling sessions.
Change, like opening yourself up to a counselor, can be difficult. Be patient with yourself and with your counselor. If several months has passed and the relationship does not seem like a good fit, you may need to re-evaluate. Counseling is like trying on shoes. You may try a few on to see how they feel, or you may need to give them time to get worn in until they are comfortable for you.