Dr. Rich Patterson

Kids & Depression

An ever increasing number of kids are struggling with depression, really struggling.  What is the reason?  Why the increase?  What is causing all of this among our youth.  Although my book shown above is not about depression, it contains a number of discussions that can be held with kids to give them hope.  As an Assistant Principal of a high school for many years I worked with kids who were struggling to keep going.  There are many situations and certainly no two are exactly alike.  In general, I found that the kids who were struggling, want to talk with someone.  They want someone to listen without judgment and let them explain how they see things.  I used to ask kids what they saw themselves doing in five years.  Often the answer I would get was evasive or would show a tremendous lack of confidence in their own future.

It is too easy to say that many of them didn’t have any goals, or that they really didn’t have an adult to sit down with them and map out their future in such a way that would show them that they could get to where they wanted to go.  They lacked complete confidence in themselves and the world.  Sometimes they just can’t see how they can fit in and be successful.  But why is that? Research has shown that spending too much time on the computer can damage mental health.

In multiple studies involving thousands of individuals many have complained of feeling depressed.  With kids, they are always connected through their phones and are forever texting and checking in to various social media websites.  One part of this depression puzzle, and there are most certainly are more, involved limiting the computer time that kids have to less than five hours a day.  Once that number is crossed, depression becomes a problem.  Over use of computers also affects sleep patterns according to recent research released.

Having “technology neutral zones” in your home, car and other areas of your life will encourage you to interact with other people rather than a machine.  By interacting you are adjusting to their thoughts, thinking of comments that add to the conversation, being there in person with them, looking at them, laughing with them.  This will not only protect your physical health, but your mental health.  If we take time to catch ourselves being drawn to technology rather than interacting with others, we need to stop and take another look.  Kids may not be very good at monitoring this, or may say, it isn’t a big deal.  But it is a big deal because it is a form of escape into an altered reality.

By taking with to enter into discussions with our kids, such as those designed in my book:  Making Sense of Life: A Guidebook for Teens and Parents you will find an enjoyment with your kids that you never knew what there.  I have written a few blogs about asking good questions which will also help with this process.