An open letter to parents of children with depression

Photo+Coby+Berg

Photo Coby Berg

by Liv Allen, Feature Editor

Some adults are quick to label our generation and easily jump to pills as a solution to anything.

This statement is ironic seeing that the U.S. opioid epidemic was ignited by the Baby Boomers—who still face the highest percentages of prescription opioid abuse to this day.

But I digress. 

Many young adults face scrutiny or backlash from their parents or guardians when seeking pharmaceutical help for their mental illness. 

Why is that? Why are so many young people told to “get over” or “just deal with” their depression as if it’s an ailment comparable to the common cold (which even then, people use over-the-counter medications to encourage wellness)? 

To assume that depression is a “state of mind” that one can overcome is extremely ignorant, and frankly, dangerous to the one actively seeking help. Depression is an illness often caused by chemical and structural imbalances in the brain, genetics or trauma. 

Depression is real, and even at a high-functioning level, very debilitating and exhausting. 

The most frustrating part is that one could be living an externally healthy lifestyle, or “doing everything right” (think therapy, sleeping eight hours a night, having a balanced diet, participating in activities, having a supportive friend group, etc.…) and still be depressed. This is why people may look to antidepressants for help. 

It is important to note that antidepressants do not intrinsically make you happy or cure your depression. One of the primary purposes of antidepressants is to find a baseline within your mind. They are not supposed to make you extremely happy and upbeat all the time, but they may pull you out an extremely dangerous, dark, and low mindset—which can make all the difference. 

This sort of happy medium may completely change someone’s perspective of themselves and can encourage a much happier, healthier lifestyle. 

Now, I am not endorsing medicine as an easy, quick fix for depression or other mental illnesses. As stated before, many different factors play into someone’s mental health. People must reflect on themselves and their needs, and work with a counselor or therapist to examine how they can best combat their mental illness.

Suppose someone still feels that medication is something that they will benefit from and want to try. In that case, they must conduct their due diligence in researching medications and making themselves aware of possible side effects and long-term implications. It is also imperative that they work with a licensed doctor or psychiatrist to find the medication that will most likely work for their individual needs. 

Parents must stop treating their children’s mental health concerns with a grain of salt, and the demonization of medication like antidepressants needs to end. 

Depression is characterized as a mental illness for a reason, and it’s time everyone starts treating it like one.