The Greek philosopher, Epictetus, wrote long ago that nothing was so but that we think it so. For reactive, or situational depression, that fits. If there is a generational component, and your symptoms have been since childhood, to varying degrees, then it's organic and medication will be part of the healing. If the symptoms are mostly a result of ongoing events or life circumstances, then it's reactive, and the healing is on you. Through God's grace and your hard work, you can beat this depression.
Two tools for beating reactive depression. First, use the "as if" principle. When you are depressed, you don't feel like doing anything. Here comes moping, eating, laying around. Depression robs us of the activation process. If you don't feel like doing something, but in your heart what you are thinking of doing is good to do, then act "as if" you feel like doing it, and GET BUSY!
Second, activity is the antidote for reactive depression. When your heart gets above 120 beats/minute, your brain releases endorphins, nature's Prozac. Why buy this stuff when getting active releases the equivalent in your brain? It's hard to be active and depressed at the same time. Activity beats depression both because of the endorphins and also because the activity distracts you from the depression. Epictetus was right! Depressed? Nah. It's all in your head.
In Chapter Eight of Teachable Moments: Building Blocks of Christian Parenting, entitled Problems Can Be Solved, you will learn about these and other tools to help your child stay the course to adulthood.
What to do? What to do? Did I say that right? What does he/she think of me? What if I don't get the job? We all do a whole lotta worry. What does it get us? Wrinkles, ulcers, stress, and missed opportunities. All of our worry can be boiled down into two categories --- Constructive Worry and Destructive Worry.
Constructive worry is worry about those things over which you have control. Do you want to do your best on your presentation tomorrow? Practice it tonight. Destructive worry is worry about those things over which you have no control. Is your picnic in the park going to be rained out tomorrow? You have no control over the weather (but you can make alternative plans just in case).
Generally, about 20% of our worry is constructive and 80% is destructive. Do what you can to address your constructive worry. For the destructive worry? With faith, you can give it to God. He's got the big picture. He'll take care of it.
When the "what ifs" get you, take a deep breath and turn the "what if" into an "I wonder." "What if" generates tightness, muscle constriction, high blood pressure. "I wonder" generates curiosity, muscle expansion, and calm assurance. Add a presuppositional phrase (or positive outcome) to your "I wonder" and your worry becomes a hopeful anticipation that can direct your energies. "What if I fail the math test tomorrow?" becomes, "I wonder how well I will do on the math test tomorrow."
In Chapter Eight of my book, Teachable Moments: Building Blocks of Christian Parenting, I explain in detail how to focus on constructive worry and turn "what ifs" into "I wonders." So, don't worry so much.
The Upside of Rebellion
In global politics, rebellion is a negative term. It connotes turmoil, injustice, anarchy. In a healthy family, there's an upside to rebellion. In Teachable Moments: Building Blocks of Christian Parenting, I contend that teenagers must rebel. It is a prerequisite for developing an individual identity, the developmental stage required of teens to become responsible adults. Some types of rebellion have more consequences than others. Teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol addiction, criminal behavior are all rebellious acts that can mar a teen for life. As Christian parents, sometimes the best we can do is love our kids through their bad choices. Most teenage rebellion, however, is a version of testing the limits and/or testing their wings. In shepherding our teens through the sturm und drang of adolescence, we can find teachable moments to share our wisdom, develop a system of accountability and oversight, and help them spread their wings responsibly.