Handling Depression in Teens, Interview with Natalie Mack

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This week on the Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Handling Depression in Teens with Natalie Mack.

Handling Depression in Teens, Interview with Natalie Mack

Handling Depression in Teens, Interview with Natalie Mack

As homeschooling parents, we wear many hats and play multiple roles in our children’s lives. One such navigator of life is military wife, homeschooling mom, and business owner, our Cousin Natalie Mack. Natalie talks about the importance of being aware of the unique challenges our teens may face, especially when it comes to mental health. She and Vicki also discuss the impact of military life on teens as well as how to support them in prevention of and in response to handling depression in teens.

About Natalie Mack

Natalie, a retired Navy chaplain spouse, has been adjusting to this new phase of life recently. Four of her five children have graduated from college, and now all that’s left is their 10th grader to homeschool. 

But throughout the homeschooling years, this military family has been serving their country. This often required moving at the drop of a hat, so Natalie is used to adapting to new challenges, or big changes, of life.

Alongside homeschooling, she runs a consulting and mentoring business called Natalie Mack, where she focuses on military homeschooling. She also works with HSLDA as the military community outreach coordinator. As you can see, she wears many hats, just like all homeschool moms do!

Military Life and Teen Adjustment

Military families serve their country as a unit, and the adjustments required during frequent moves can be mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging for everyone involved. While some children may embrace change with excitement, others might struggle with the constant adjustments. 

Military kids do not always have a choice in these moves, which can lead to bouts of depression or difficulty adjusting. As homeschooling parents, we have the advantage of spending more time with our teens, allowing us to identify potential signs of depressive episodes or adjustment difficulties.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Teen Depression

Be vigilant in observing any changes in your teenagers’ behavior. Depression in teens may manifest as:

  • increased isolation
  • lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • excessive sleep
  • irritability
  • bouts of anger.

It is crucial to differentiate between normal teenage development and signs of depression.

The winter months, particularly in certain regions, can bring about a condition known as winter blues or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Teens, in particular, may feel the effects of SAD more intensely due to their hormonal changes. 

The lack of sunlight during this time can affect our teens’ optic nerves, impacting their emotional well-being. Symptoms of SAD can range from:

  • feeling down and lethargic
  • to experiencing difficulty concentrating and sleeping excessively. 

In order to help them, teach them some coping skills for teenage depression can help, for instance:

  • light therapy and
  • increased outdoor activity are important interventions to consider.
  • If you notice a persistent pattern of negative behavior or a decline in their overall well-being, seeking professional help from a pediatrician or mental health counselor is advisable.

Practical Tips for Supporting Teens

So, what can we do to help our teens during these challenging times? We use coping skills for teenage depression. First and foremost, it’s essential to rule out any underlying biological factors by consulting with a pediatrician or family doctor. Sometimes, physiological issues like anemia or thyroid imbalances can mimic depressive symptoms. 

Once we have ruled out any medical concerns, we can explore therapeutic options. Many teens find counseling to be beneficial and even trendy. It provides a safe space for them to express their feelings and work through any challenges they may be facing.

Because we homeschool and are with them all day, we have the opportunity to model healthy habits for our teens. Encouraging them to spend time outdoors, engage in physical activities, and maintain a balanced diet can make a significant difference. Nature has a calming effect on our minds, and even a short walk can help activate our brain’s healing centers. 

Practicing gratitude and finding moments of laughter can boost serotonin levels and promote a positive outlook. Look for ways to add this into your everyday conversations with them and, if necessary, go look for your teen just to spend some quality time with them.

Sometimes regular "doses" of nature can help
teen's blues.

Coping Skills for Teenage Depression

Lastly, there is no shame or blame in dealing with depression. It is crucial to approach this topic with compassion and understanding and to create an environment free from shame or blame.

As parents, we may feel a sense of guilt or worry, but it’s essential to remember that seeking help is a positive step towards healing. Depression is a treatable condition, and with the right support, our teens can overcome it.

Avoid attributing their struggles to a lack of faith or personal failures. Instead, listen attentively, offer empathy, and reassure them that seeking help is a sign of strength. Encourage open dialogue, allowing your teen to express their thoughts and emotions without judgment.

Homeschooling provides a unique opportunity for teens to explore their interests and plan for the future. However, the uncertainty and pressure associated with decision-making can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. 

Engage in conversations surrounding their aspirations, provide resources, and offer guidance where needed. Starting fresh is a normal part of life, and your support can help alleviate any fears or doubts they may have.

Handling Depression in Teens with Natalie Mack

As homeschooling parents, we have the privilege of being intimately involved in our teens’ lives. By recognizing the unique challenges they face and using coping skills for teenage depression, we can better support their mental well-being. You are not alone in this journey, and together, we can create a nurturing environment where our teens can thrive.

Check out Natalie Mack’s Tedx Talk and other resources at her website.

Thank you to Seth Tillman for editing this episode and to Richie Soares with Homeschool and Humor for writing this blog post!

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