Question: How can I manage going to work or going to school during an episode of depression?
Answer: That's actually one of the most commonly asked questions that comes to me. Actually most often from adolescents who say, "I felt so bad. How can I get myself to go to school when I'm feeling this bad?" I think there's a number of things we can tell the children that we're treating, we can especially ask parents to help the child to understand.
One is for them to understand that this is an illness. It's an illness similar to asthma, to diabetes. It's a chronic condition, but that waxes and wanes -- sometimes feels better, sometimes feels worse. And in that setting you can say, "We are treating this and you will feel better. And you need to do what you're able to do right now."
The other thing which is often very helpful is the fact that parents of depressed children often themselves have suffered from depression. And if they can share that information with their child, and help them to know how they managed to get themselves to work, then their child or their adolescent can better understand what's expected of them when going to school.
Also, at the end of the day, if you have a very, very severe depression, that should be no different than having a very, very severe case of the flu. You wouldn't ask a child to go to school with a fever of 103, the same way the child's not going to be able to perform academically if they're quite depressed, so they may take some time off from school.
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