Ep 156: The Funny Thing About Depression…

John Moe, author of The Hilarious World of Depression, joins us for a candid and surprisingly fun look at living with depression and how to talk to teens about it.

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Full show notes

Dealing with depression is tough–whether you’re battling it yourself or trying to help a teen who’s struggling. Depression can distance us from friends and loved ones, cause us to stop eating and sleeping and make things we once enjoyed seem pointless. If left untreated, depression can even be life-threatening.

As more and more people–especially teens– find themselves struggling with depression in the midst of the pandemic, it’s more tempting than ever to search for remedies to this complicated condition. What can we do to make life with depression more livable?

For some of us, the answer may lie in laughter. You read that right. Laughter. Sometimes, in order to process our emotions and make light of the things that plague us, the answers lie in comedy! Joking about depression might not always be the most conventional coping mechanism, but it can do wonders for making such a terrifying, overwhelming illness more manageable on the daily.

Our guest this week, John Moe, is no stranger to laughing his way through tough times. He’s the author of The Hilarious World of Depression and the host of the podcast Depresh Mode, where he engages in interesting and introspective discussions with guests about mental health and more!. As someone who’s lived with major depressive disorder since his early teens, John knows that helping a kid through depression is not easy. That’s why he’s here to answer questions, give advice...and make us laugh!

Want to talk to your teen about depression but don’t know where to start? We’re getting into having conversations about mental health in this week’s episode. We’re also covering how you can spot depression in a teen, and how a little humor can help you and your teen work through the difficulties of depression together.

Discussing Depression with Your Kids

Initiating a talk about mental health with teens can be a little daunting...especially when teens would usually much rather scroll through Instagram or watch Netflix than talk to us about literally anything. But if we don’t try to have these conversations with our kids, they might find themselves suffering from depression or anxiety without being able to put a name to those feelings. They may think they are alone, or that there’s something wrong with them, when all they really need is some professional help.

When sitting kids down for a chat, John suggests keeping things open and transparent. In the episode, he shares a touching anecdote from when he had a discussion about depression with his own daughter! One of the biggest tips he has for parents is to never dismiss the gravity of what teen’s are going through. It can be easy to say things like “you’ll feel better when you’re older” or “it’s not that big of a deal” when you’re trying to provide comfort, but these kinds of statements can backfire when teens feel invalidated.

Plus, mental illness isn’t just something one can ”think” their way out of, John reminds us. In our interview, we talk about a questionable sentiment that’s often applied to cancer–the idea that if someone is just positive and tough enough, they won't suffer so much. But cancer is certainly not cured just by having a good attitude, John reminds us, and neither is depression. It takes a professional to help treat an illness! This is important to remember when breaking down depression for your teens.

Preparing kids for the possibility of depression is a great way to keep them from feeling confused or isolated before they find themselves struggling–but what about a teen who’s already dealing with depression?

Is My Child Depressed?

Although depression affects everyone differently, there are some signs we can look out for when watching for depression in our teens. In the episode, John shares the story of his own personal battle with depression, and how his wife noticed the signs before he did. Even though he was isolating himself from friends, constantly going through intense mood swings and losing sleep, he didn’t think of himself as someone with depression.

His determination to avoid diagnosis stemmed from his misconceptions about depression, he explains. Before becoming the educated man he is today, John thought that depressed folks just moped around all the time acting sad–and that didn’t sound like him. Only after being diagnosed did he release that there is a whole spectrum of symptoms that people with depression experience!

When looking for signs of depression in a teen, John recommends keeping an eye out for a sudden drop in grades or attendance. It’s also wise to pay attention to their social patterns–are they suddenly losing friends or staying home on the weekends when they used to go out? If you’re noticing some of these signifiers, it might be time to do some research or reach out for professional help.

Finding a therapist, going on medication, or getting another form of professional treatment is essential to helping teens get better, but living with depression can still make daily life harder. When you’re going through a dark time, John suggests finding the light in laughter.

How Comedy Helps Us Cope

For John, and many of us, comedy is something we’ve indulged in our whole lives. Growing up, we may have watched cartoons that made us laugh or maybe, like John, tuned into SNL and Monty Python for comedic relief. As John explains in the episode, comedy helped ease his immigrant family’s transition to American life. Humor helps us see the odd and contradictory parts of our existence and gives us a chance to discuss contradictory and confusing topics we might often sweep under the rug.

After his depression diagnosis, John turned to comedy to help him process his feelings. One of the hardest parts of adjusting to the diagnosis was feeling like he couldn't communicate just how difficult things were–but he felt that within comedy and writing, there was a chance for people like him to talk about things through art! In fact, even if it isn’t comedy, he suggests teens who are dealing with depression find some kind of hobby that allows for self expression, like joining a band or picking up painting!

Using humor to talk about depression can also chip away at the stigmas that still stand around mental illness. Even if we’re just joking around, we’re still encouraging discussion–and reminding people that it’s ok not to be ok. As John explains in the episode, the worst thing we can do is ignore the reality of depression and anxiety, and allow people who may be suffering to continue feeling like they have no solution or that they’re going at it alone.

In the episode….

My interview with John was hilarious, yet helpful! Not only do we share plenty of laughs this week, we also get to the heart of handling serious mental health concerns. On top of the subjects discussed above, we talk about…
  • Why teens can’t “achieve” their way out of depression
  • How we can get teens to be less dramatic
  • Why kids should think critically about depression in the media
  • How finding a therapist is like dating
I really enjoyed talking to John this week. We hope you enjoy listening! Don't forget to subscribe, and we’ll see you next week.

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Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
John Moe
John Moe
Host of DEPRESH MODE and SLEEPING WITH CELEBRITIES. Author-The Hilarious World of Depression, other books. Speech maker, lead singer. https://t.co/LqK6EjcsGa
Ep 156: The Funny Thing About Depression…
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