In anticipation of our April webcast on Anxiety and Depression in Adopted Children, ALP Clinical Director Judy Stigger shared some information about the causes of anxiety and depression and what to do next:
Adding to the confusion is the range of causes of anxiety or depression. When adoptive parents ask if the cause is nature or nurture, the answer is usually “all of the above."
Typically, an inherited component is involved. Depression and anxiety, like so many other emotionally challenging conditions, run in biological families. Also, early trauma from risky prenatal circumstances, orphanage care or other forms of neglect or abuse can provoke depression or anxiety to express more strongly.
A child with attachment issues can also be particularly vulnerable to challenges as this often makes it more difficult for them to access your parental help to stabilize themselves.
If you are concerned about your child, trust your parenting instincts. Ask for help. A pediatrician, psychologist or counselor can offer starting places. Counseling is often recommended before medication is used.
If your teen has not talked about his adoption recently, that is also worth exploring. Since he may not want to talk to one set of parents (you) about his feelings toward the other set (his birth parents), an adoption-competent therapist can help flesh out this area for him. For some teens, this gives considerable symptom relief.
When appropriate, obtaining educational services and accommodations may also help. Imagine going to a job you hated and at which you felt incompetent. You would likely feel depressed and anxious, too.
Parents may also want to access counseling or a parenting consultation services for themselves. How you respond to your child makes a difference in how he feels about himself and how readily he uses help. But raising a child you are worried about is scary and exhausting. You deserve to get some help navigating this, too.
Materials on www.ErikasLighthouse.org may also be worth looking at, as is this fact sheet put out by the Children's Bureau.
Join us for Anxiety and Depression in Adopted Children on April 7, 2016 at 8 PM Central. Our experts for the evening will be Peggy Kubert, LCSW, from Erika’s Lighthouse, and Vasco Lopes, PsyD, a psychologist at the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders. Register here.