Remember that old saying, “There’s no such thing as a magic pill”? It’s true. There isn’t.
Getting better from illness, any illness, takes a combination of factors of which medication is just one. And it would also be fair to speculate that the fitter the patient, with a great mental attitude, the better the medication will work.
You can’t expect a pill to make everything else magically better.
Medication for depression can take a while to work. Everyone’s brains are unique and it can take time to find the right dose of the medication that will be the most effective for each person. Sometimes individuals will need a combination of medications in order to find their perfect fit. The process can take some time.
Depending on events in the individual’s life, the perfect amount of medication may also need to be adjusted further along the track. Always work with a medical professional to do this.
Take Notes and Keep Watch
In the meantime, you need to know what side effects the medication MAY cause your teenager. Each packet of medication will come with a list of possible side effects, which you can also Google. Given that you are the parent, you will know your teenager well. This is a good time for you to really pay attention to any changes in your teenager. If you are waiting a while for the perfect dose to kick in, it is worthwhile knowing the side effects you may see while their brains are adjusting and new neural pathways are being formed. Changes can be slow and gradual so having a daily check in and noting everything down can be really useful.
Our routine included me asking “How are you feeling today?” and just requiring a number from 0 – 10 as an answer. I would ask this two or three times a day. And I would write it down. On each page it looked something like this:
It was scribbled in an old notebook and the information later turned out to be invaluable. After a few weeks, I was looking back over the pages and I could see the changes she had made. From a busy, 1 month down the track perspective, I had forgotten about many of these changes. I just knew she was getting worse. As I flicked over the pages I could see that her worst days were on the days she stayed in bed. She would nap most of the day, and then she’d struggle to get to sleep at night. On those days, she also wasn’t getting any movement or much sunlight. All contributing factors to a good night’s rest.
This information was gold. It meant there were things I could do to help turn her around. When she was refusing to get out of bed, I was quietly insistent: pulling back the curtains, opening the windows, sitting on the side of the bed and talking to her about getting up to sit on the couch. I simply didn’t go away until she did that much. Sometimes it would take up to an hour to encourage her out of bed. And once she was up I would try and involve her as much as possible in what I was doing – gardening/planning dinner/getting the mail/going to the supermarket. All small steps and all helpful.
I started experimenting with essential oils and putting different ones in the diffuser and found that spearmint was useful in getting her moving. And lavender helped her calm down for sleep. Another small step. Again, useful.
If I hadn’t been noting these little changes down I may have easily missed them. They weren’t the magic cure all solution I would have loved, they were simply tiny tweaks that I was alert to.
With a combination of time, medication and hard work, her depression and anxiety lifted. As slowly and as mysteriously as they’d arrived.
Looking after a teenager with anxiety and depression is hard work. Getting good support for myself in order to give her the best support was crucial.