What to Do When You’re Sad and Lonely: A Guide for Kids
By: Dr. James J. Crist
Reviewed By: Jon Henshaw, M.A.
Growing up can be a difficult experience, especially during times when you feel sad and lonely. Those experiences can happen at any time, and are usually triggered by a friend moving away, being teased or bullied at school, or worrying about a loved one. Sometimes it can even happen without knowing the reasons why.
Dr. James J. Crist, a psychologist who has helped lots of kids who are sad, lonely, grieving, and depressed, has developed a self-help guide for kids entitled, "What to Do When You're Sad and Lonely." In the guide, he shares some of the information, techniques, and resources that have helped hundreds of his young patients deal with sadness, grief, depression, bipolar disorder, and even suicidal thoughts.
Many parents are unaware of how prevalent these feelings are in their children. However, research shows that it's a serious issue that affects a good portion of our youth.
- Studies indicate 1 in 5 children and adolescents may have a diagnosable mental disorder (Department of Health and Human Services)
- An estimated two-thirds of young people with mental health problems are not getting the help they need (Department of Health and Human Services)
- The rate of depression among adolescents may be as high as 1 in 8 (Department of Health and Human Services)
- Of the 100,000 teenagers in juvenile detention, estimates indicate 60% have behavioral, mental, or emotional problems (Department of Justice)
- The rate of suicide among young people has tripled since 1960, making it the third-leading cause of death among adolescents and second among college-age youth (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
- In spite of its high incidence, depression remains one of the more difficult disorders for parents and health care providers to identify (The National Institute of Mental Health)
Part 1 of What to Do when You're Sad and Lonely focuses on feelings of sadness and loneliness that most kids have at one time or another.
- Chapter 1 discusses the big and small things that often make kids feel sad, lonely, or "down in the dumps." It also talks about how different people react to these painful feelings.
- Chapter 2 has ten "Blues Busters," or coping skills you can try at home, at school, or anywhere else to help shake those sad feelings.
- Chapter 3 offers written exercises that can go deeper than the Blues Busters in helping you get a handle on your feelings.
- Chapter 4 is all about making — and keeping — friends. It includes ideas on choosing friends and describes the skills needed to be a good friend. Making connections with others is one of the best ways to get over the blues quicker.
Part 2 focuses on deeper feelings of sadness and loneliness — ones that are too hard to handle alone. If you have some of the problems described in chapters 5-9, please talk to a family adult right away. You may need the help of a counselor or doctor who can identify your problem and suggest solutions.
- Chapter 5 is about grief, a deep feeling of sadness that occurs when something terrible has happened in your life such as losing a loved one or a pet, or if other sudden changes have occurred.
- Chapter 6 talks about depression — when you feel sad, lonely, tired, and unable to do much. (But the good news is you can do something about it.)
- Chapter 7 discusses a specific kind of depression known as Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder makes you feel really up sometimes and really down at others (kind of like a roller coaster).
- Chapter 8 talks about some other big problems that can be connected to feelings of long-term sadness, loneliness, or depression. You'll learn about bullying, eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, and neglect and abuse, and find ways to get the right kind of help.
- Chapter 9 talks about feeling like you no longer want to live, also know as suicidal feelings. Even if you've felt this way for only a minute, it's important to talk to someone. If you feel this way now or have often wished you could die, please get some help right now. Talk to an adult you trust, and don't wait.
- Chapter 10 describes what it's like to go to counseling. If you're having a very hard time getting over your sad and lonely feelings, or if you have problems that are too big to handle on your own, you'll learn how an expert can help.
The book uses real-life examples to explain the difference between "normal" sadness and more serious disorders. Kids leave armed with helpful solutions to help "bust the blues" and "untwist" their thinking. It offers both children and parents advice, resources, and hope to get them back on the road to happiness.