As hard as depression is, it’s especially tough for children and teenagers. Going through the most judgement filled and personality shaping years of your life is difficult enough without adding mental health issues. It’s often a struggle for young people to share their feelings, let alone feelings that have no visible reasoning. Growing up, I was asked countless times “What’s wrong?” or “Why are you sad?”. How does a child or adolescent explain that nothing is wrong, but everything is wrong? How do they explain they don’t have an explanation for their sadness, they just know they don’t want to be here anymore? I knew I had all these great things in life to be happy for, but I still felt miserable inside.
When I was a child and teen, I rarely shared these sentiments with my peers. I turned to my parents. Parents bandage your scraped knee and make it all better. Much like my peers, my parents also didn’t know quite how to react initially when their child told them that life is something she no longer wanted to be part of. They didn’t know how to react when their child informed them her emotional pain was so brutal that she didn’t think she could or wanted to go on. It broke my parents’ hearts, like it would any parent, hearing those words from their child. They bandaged my knee, but they couldn’t bandage my mind.
They weren’t quite sure where to turn. At the time there were almost no child psychiatrists available to even consult. They took the next steps to get me better, taking me to therapists and psychiatrists who were willing to see children and young adults. While my parents were apprehensive about trying meds, with no long-term studies on young people, they wanted their child to feel better. I was prescribed many different antidepressants, starting at just 9 years old. The pills were the only real options available at the time. Most of them barely helped, some made me irritable and made me gain weight. Some of them made me have less control of my emotions. Some muted my memory and made my once active brain feel as though it was in slow motion. One of the strongest ones damaged my kidneys and caused me to be put in the hospital for three weeks. It followed me from elementary, to middle to high school, the cloud of utter depression and suicidality that couldn’t be shaken, even though I managed to put on the best face I could in public.
As a parent, you want to help your child in any way you can. It can be hard to know where to turn or what to try next when your child has been through med after med, doctor after doctor. Know that while your child may push you away or may not be able to fully articulate how much they appreciate you being there, your child appreciates it more than they can say. Just being understanding, supportive and loving them no matter what is meaningful.
My parents were always looking for alternative treatments and therapies. While Ketamine gave me my life back as an adult, I wish this use of Ketamine had been around when I was a child or teen. We have successfully treated young patients for treatment resistant depression who have gone on to get their childhood, teen years and life back. You may not be able to bandage their depression, but you do have options that come close. If your child is suffering from treatment resistant depression, please feel free to give us a call at 855-538-9355 to discuss how we can help. There is hope, there is help.
Kayla is a Patient Care Liaison at the Denver location of Ketamine Wellness Centers