Cy-Fair Magazine Fall 2015 Article

I was recently featured as an expert for an article, Teen Depression. Follow the link to read the entire article:

"After being diagnosed with scoliosis and then required to wear a back brace, Rebekah began to experience signs of clinical depression. “I was mad at the world and mad at God. I did not understand why this happened to me,” she recalls. “I wanted to crawl into a dark hole and never come out again.” Rebekah began to run on auto pilot, not interacting with anyone, even her friends on the basketball team. “Fortunately, my mom recognized these signs and got me help,” she says. “I went to a counselor and psychiatrist and got the help I needed. It was not asking for help at first, but getting treatment and medication has helped me get back to my normal self before my diagnosis.” There are still some days when Rebekah feels sad or lonely, but she reminds herself of how far she’s come and to not isolate from others.

Although an event or a stressor might partly trigger depression, the causes are usually more complex,” says Dr. Acosta. Some examples may include a family history of mood disorders, being bullied or teased, having an eating disorder or being malnourished. “ ere is usually not just one cause for depression,” says Dr. Acosta. “In fact, some teens can continue to appear okay and mask some of the depressive feelings they are experiencing.” Countering a Negative Social Stigma “Clinical depression is a mental illness,” emphasizes Rollo. “It is not a choice, and people must realize they cannot change a clinically depressed person’s feelings or make them ‘snap out of it.’” “At times, there is a stigma or worry about what it means for individuals to have depression,” adds Dr. Acosta. “Sometimes, people are nervous and avoid getting help. It is important to remember that open, honest communication is the  first step in coping with these difficult feelings.” Lately, social media has encouraged society to be mindful, non-judgmental, and unashamed when struggling with mental illness. Celebrities such as Jared Padalecki, Demi Lovato, and Miley Cyrus are active in establishing or supporting mental illness and awareness foundations. 

Treating Clinical Depression “There are many different types of treatment available,” says Rollo. Counseling is often a step and can be used in addition to medication. “It is important to learn about the many different types of counseling, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and person-centered therapy.” She advises that when seeking counseling, one should always make sure to ask counselors about their training in working with adolescents as well as their theoretical perspective. A major factor in adolescent counseling is the relationship with the therapist. “If the adolescent doesn’t ‘buy into therapy, they likely will not gain much from counseling,” says Rollo. “It is important that adolescents trust and feel open with their counselor; subsequently, the counselor works hard at ensuring that rapport and trust are gained at the start of therapy.” Dr. Acosta notes that a psychiatry referral could also be offered, as a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental health concerns. “A psychiatrist will be able to assess the severity of the indicators and might suggest a medication to help alleviate some of the depressive symptoms,” she says. The Importance of Parental Support “Parents play a key role in supporting their child through empathetic listening and coordinating support, such as helping to schedule a therapy visit,” says Dr. Acosta. Parents know and understand their child and may be the best resource for understanding the changes their teen is experiencing. Rollo agrees. “It is always important for parents to be involved in counseling a minor,” she says. Equally important, however, is that parents are given feedback, either weekly or monthly, of their child’s progress. Rollo adds, “It is vital for the counselor to be given updates from the parents on how their adolescent is functioning at home.” “e good news is that recovery is quite possible, and as healing continues, teens are oen able to re-engage in their interests and social connections that the depressive symptoms may have prevented,” says Dr. Acosta. Although the instance of a relapse is a possibility, teens can be assured that therapy can help them know the warning signs or triggers, utilize coping skills, and seek support if needed. "

Symptoms to Watch out For Although it is normal to feel down once in a while, Dr. Amy Acosta, psychologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, says parents should be aware of the common signs of depression.  These symptoms include withdrawal or isolation from others, a disturbance in sleep patterns, decrease in energy and a decrease in interest of daily or previously enjoyed activities, among others. “One symptom that many parents are unaware of is irritability,” says Amy Rollo, licensed professional counselor and clinical director for The Center for Children & Families in Jersey Village. If your adolescent child is acting more irritable than usual, it can be a sign of depression. Rollo notes that although sadness or moodiness can be a big red  flag for depression, it is important to recognize that teenagers can have any one of these symptoms without being depressed. “An evaluation with a mental health professional is needed to determine if your child is suffering from depression,” adds Dr. Acosta. Roots of Melancholia there are many causes of depression including a genetic disposition for mood disorders, which means that emotional disorders can run in the family. “Depression can also be situational,” adds Rollo. “For instance, if teens are going through a difficult period, their sadness can increase and manifest into clinical depression.” 


Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting