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Depression Coach

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Welcome to Mayo Clinic Depression Coach! This program is designed for kids, teens and families who have children who are having difficulty lifting their mood. Depression is more than just sadness, and families can find it very difficult to handle it when their child is feeling depressed. In this program, families will learn, plan and execute a personalized plan to combat depression.

What should I expect?

Treatment for depressed mood involves helping kids learn through engaging in valued activities over time, that their feelings and level of motivation tend to be inaccurate. Through experience, children begin to feel better when they learn:

  • That their feelings tend to do a bad job at telling them what to do, resulting in avoidance.
  • That their beliefs and automatic thoughts results in further avoidance, making them feel even worse.
  • That engaging consistently in meaningful activities is the way to gain experience to learn otherwise.

In Depression Coach, families and children will be guided through the following steps:

  • Step 1: Understanding Depression. The first step is to understand how depression works, and how engaging in valued activities can help kids start to feel better. This involves understanding valued activities that you have stopped doing, how waiting to "feel like doing something" is unhelpful, how your thoughts and beliefs further cause you to avoid activities and people you value, and figure out how you will engage in valued activities instead.
  • Step 2:  Planning Activities. The second step is making a specific plan to set up, do and learn from your experiences from engaging in fun and valued activities consistently. With consistent effort, you learn that you can function productively in line with your values, even if you feel down. This step also includes planning barriers that may stop you from doing activities, and involves making a plan with your family to stay engaged.
  • Step 3: Understanding Thoughts. The third step is learning to recognize specific misguided thoughts and beliefs that tend to hijack your ability to see a situation for what it is. With practice, you learn to identify those thoughts when they happen, evaluate the possibilities, and work to correct those distortions.
  • Step 4: Activity Engagement/Monitoring. The final step is perhaps the most important: actually executing your plan! This step includes sheets and templates for monitoring your activity and mood levels over time.

Families often find depression management to be difficult to do on their own. If so, please contact the Mayo Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology to schedule an appointment.

Is this program right for me? Do I have depression?

Children experiencing depression feel sad and down, and are a change from their usual feelings and behavior. and are serious enough to be upsetting and/or make it hard for youths to do the things they need and want to do. While depression can be triggered by an event, it can be gradual too.

Examples include:

  • Persistent sad mood or loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Sleep difficulties, appetite, concentration, and energy levels feeling "off"
  • Avoiding responsibilities or getting irritated when asked about them
  • Relying on others to get daily responsibilities completed because of low energy levels

If this description of depression does not fit your experience very well, you may be experiencing situational stress or a different mental health issue. Situational stress occurs when kids and teenagers feel sad and down because something stressful is happening in their lives. For instance, experiencing bullying, obtaining a poor grade, having a family member or loved one who is very ill, or family-related stress. It is perfectly understandable and natural to feel down in these situations. If this sounds like you, please use our Family Stress Resource Center. For other information on other mental health treatments, return to the home page.

If you ever feel like you need help, contact your doctor, therapist, counselor, or the Mayo Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology to schedule an appointment.