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Suffering in Adolescence

Depression and the Young Adult / Adolescent

Allow more time to configure the suffering – for that is what depression is – of the Young Adult / Adolescent. Often this suffering manifests in the body as somatic experiences and behaviours. The confusion is distinguishing from the ordinary growth and hormonal changes that will manifest as fatigue, boredom, disinterest and risky behaviour. All of these may be ordinary, and all of these are indicators of depressive experience.

With a Young Adult / Adolescent expressing and being experienced in the ways described it is perhaps best approached without labelling of depression and more accurately considered as the experiences of difficult changes and growth that like, wisdom teeth, create suffering, albeit sourced emotionally rather than physiologically.

Faced with boredom, listlessness, fatigue disinterest and the like there are difficulties for both the Young Adult / Adolescent and the parental/adult. The Young Adult / Adolescent is most likely unaware of their suffering being related to their existential being and growth towards separation from child to adult. Equally the parent usually feels inadequacy that feeds a sense of failure in their self. This can often lead to fixing the Young Adult / Adolescent to alleviate this sense of failure; yet this sense is of their own psyche, to be attended to without use of the Young Adult / Adolescent as the resolver. Because of the almost innate shift to fix the Young Adult / Adolescent rather their own feeling of failure it might well be worth considering the involvement of both adult and Young Adult / Adolescent in the therapeutic encounter.

The suffering of the Young Adult / Adolescent is compounded with the usual situation being one in which the Young Adult / Adolescent does not [cannot] complain directly about being depressed. Often, in fact, the Young Adult / Adolescent refers to their depression as a consequence of being diagnosed, or simply being told.

Familiar to the Young Adult / Adolescent suffering is the caution exhibited that shows in being immobile, the rejection of school, friends, job; in general, relational activities. The creativeness, the explorative, the curiosity of the Young Adult / Adolescent diminishes and fades to only the flicker of candlelight.

In the growth of the Young Adult / Adolescent the desire and support to differentiate and be a person separate yet connected; to be excited and hopeful; to succeed and to noticed and accepted becomes an identity too far; not reachable, unattainable.

I believe the Young Adult / Adolescent of today is much more fragile because of the social climate which they must navigate.

The Young Adult / Adolescent is suffering and torn by the conflicting situations of what they want to be; what they are able to be; and what they [perceive] their self to be. The “Who am I” is met with frustration and failure.

Therapy for a Young Adult / Adolescent is itself contradictory - part of their suffering is the desire to “do it myself” thwarted by “I don’t know what, or how, to do this” yet seeing a therapist jeopardises and throws in their face their own suffering! The relationship with the therapist needs to be an ebb and flow that supports the Young Adult / Adolescent to be independent and have available the ‘the offered hand of the parent’.

Faced with the impossibility of being out here in the world the relationship with the therapist offers the Young Adult / Adolescent a relationship not of a specialist but of a person willing to be ready, attentive and responsive to the spoken and unspoken in a manner that does not command nor impose, well that is the ambition, of course.

Usually the first major component of the Young Adult / Adolescent that crumbles is their sense of confidence to effect their own betterment. There develops a sense of inadequacy to enact change. And with this there is also a danger of regression that becomes supported with other taking on the task which develops a dependency from the Young Adult / Adolescent and thus completes a downward spiralling script of I can’t, you can, and confirms I can’t!

Consider a starting point is with the conflict created with

  • what they want to be;

  • what they are able to be;

  • what they [perceive] their self to be.

Offer a context of being that holds experiences that the Young Adult / Adolescent has the opportunity to meet; to meet confidence, hope, nourishment and trust. And mostly, acceptance of how the Young Adult / Adolescent is.

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