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Adjusting Expectations During Seasons of Depression

As we continue in our series on supporting a teen (or anyone for that matter) with depression, our second point to keep in mind is:

Expectations need to be adjusted for this season.

Like any physical illness, depression can drain your teen’s energy. Your teen may find it harder to concentrate, and they may move slower than normal. Most likely, your teen is acutely aware that they are having difficulty completing tasks at their normal pace. Your teen will most likely already be overly self critical and frustrated and that criticism and frustration will be heightened when they make any sort of mistake.

It is necessary during this time to adjust your expectations for your teen’s output as you would if they were experiencing or recovering from a virus. Encourage your teen to do what they can and take breaks as needed. It may be helpful to have a list of things that need to be done as a gentle reminder (daily hygiene, charging school laptops) in their room, but provide plenty of time for completing these tasks and encourage your teen to ask for help. As a parent, this can feel tedious and frustrating. It is important to remind yourself that this is a season of life, and your teen’s motivation and focus will return as the depression is treated just as it does as your teen is treated for a virus. Give yourself and your teen permission to adjust expectations for this season. Modeling this type of self-compassion is just as important for your teen as it will be for your overall wellness during this time.

Possible adjustments

Offer help with homework, and find ways to make it more manageable.

(ie If there is a project coming up, brainstorm topics together; map out “must-dos” so that the teen can see the basic requirements as small manageable tasks.)

Decide on non-negotiable requirements together (taking medications, showering, brushing teeth), and allow the other requirements to be optional for this season.

Licensed Resident in Counseling

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