DR. WALLACE: My mom and dad got a divorce a couple years ago, and I've been living with my mother ever since. In the last six months, my mom appears to be either slightly or maybe even extremely depressed. I say this because she cries a lot and seems to be much more despondent, aloof and resigned than just sad.
I'm not sure how I can help her, but of course I want to if there is a way to do it without making her feel worse. I don't want to be seen as condescending or like a "know-it-all" type of teenager; I just want my mom to return to her normal personality.
Also, since she's so depressed so often, could living in this type of environment cause me to become similarly depressed? — Worried Teenage Daughter, via email
WORRIED TEENAGE DAUGHTER: There are medical studies that indicate that it may be possible to have a genetic propensity for depression. There are also life situations that may trigger depression or despondency in individuals who might not have any such genetic tendency. Your mother could also be going through hormonal shifts that may contribute to the state of mind and set of behaviors that you tentatively identify as depression.
Please encourage your mother to get professional medical assistance. Today's medical professionals have many more tools than their predecessors did, and your cherished mother absolutely deserves the best care.
It may be a delicate subject to bring up with your mother, so please consider discussing your worries with a trusted adult first. This may make for a better and easier path toward what may be a very important and ultimately helpful conversation.
I commend you for your concern for your mother. The fact that you've noticed her behavioral change and that you've written here is an important first step. Please follow through with the next steps as well.
LOOK FOR THE POSITIVE
DR. WALLACE: I feel overwhelmed every time I turn on the TV or look at any social media posts or news alerts that pop up on my cell phone. Everything is so negative and dark these days. It seems as though everyone in this country is upset with someone or some organization, and that leaves me full of hopelessness.
I know there's good out there in our world, but in the last year it seems that I'm constantly bombarded with disturbing headlines. What can I do or work toward to take in less of the negative and look for something positive? — Unsettled by the News, via email
UNSETTLED BY THE NEWS: Media reports can, at times, make us feel helpless or influence us to have a negative outlook on life. I agree this is not good for society as a whole. Try instead to focus on human-interest stories; they're uplifting, encouraging and may inspire you.
Unsubscribe from news feeds that upset you. Limit what you look at, especially stories from faraway places that are less relevant to your local community. Focus on helping others in your area, and do your best to be a good, productive and positive person with everyone you meet.
I'm not saying that you should be like an ostrich with your head in the sand. Instead, I'm encouraging you to be aware of national events and important topics, but not to dwell on all of the details to the point of depressing yourself. Do what you can to make your community and all of those around you live better, more productive and happier lives.
We all need to have hope for — and belief in — a better future. Getting involved and doing something that can help those around you instead of focusing on the negative is a great place to start.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay