I have been a regular listener of your podcast for quite some time now. I first found the podcast after returning from Israel, where I had the pleasure of staying with Jewish friends and getting to know a little more of their faith and culture. When I came home I started searching for ways to continue learning from that worldview because I greatly admire the Jewish perspective.
Not long ago you did an episode where you spoke of depression and you said something that resonated with me then, and continues to stay on my mind. To paraphrase, you said, “Happiness is not the opposite of depression, the opposite of depression is purpose.”
I have a teenage daughter who struggles with depression; she has every symptom. We have her seeing a counselor who was the first to mention to us that she is very likely clinically depressed. This brings me to my twofold question; I hope you can provide information that will help us.
How does a depressed person find purpose, and how does a parent guide a depressed teen toward their purpose?
Thank you for any wisdom you have to share.
Thank you for your kind words; we are terribly sorry to hear of your daughter’s struggles. You are clearly a loving father and doing whatever you can including working with a counselor. We are sure you understand that anything we say is intended as general advice since we neither know your daughter’s specific situation nor do we have special expertise with teenage girls (other than having raised quite a few of our own) or with clinical depression.
Before we touch on your question about purpose, we would like to suggest that you become familiar with two resources. The first is Dr. Leonard Saks’ book, Girls on the Edge, which Susan recommended in her Practical Parenting column. Dr. Saks, a pediatrician, shares fascinating research on teenage girls. From our perspective, one of the most interesting is his conclusion as to the importance of faith in keeping girls emotionally healthy, but his book will give you much insight. We also recommend becoming familiar with the folks who made Screenagers, a movie that focuses on the effects of technology on our teens. They note that social media seems to be affecting girls, in particular, in an emotionally harmful way.