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Local author releasing book on teenage depression

DESTREHAN – Dr. Christie M. Cognevich is not a medical professional, but she has more than a decade of experience working with teenagers and direct knowledge of the mental health battles many of her students face.

Her upcoming book, “Depression: Tips and Insights for Teenagers” includes numerous firsthand accounts from people who experienced teenage depression and details how they worked through it. These interviews include accounts from teenagers themselves.

The book also packs a variety of resources about finding help, with or without health insurance, and how to navigate conversations with loved ones.

“Depression: Tips and Insights for Teenagers” will be released Oct. 14 through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The book is presented by Rowman and Littlefield, an international publisher that offers a wide range of books on mood disorders for various ages.

Cognevich grew up in the River Parishes and graduated from Destrehan High School as the salutatorian in 2002. She’s a recent graduate from Louisiana State University with a PhD in literature and an AP English teacher at Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans. Prior to working at Mount Carmel, Cognevich spent five years teaching at LSU and the University of New Orleans.

Working with teenagers has been her calling. It’s easy to dismiss a teenager as being young, dramatic or angsty, and those perceptions keep young adults from getting the respect they deserve.

“I notice my students are doing the best with what they have, and what they have is not necessarily what you would expect,” Cognevich said. “They have alcoholic parents. They have little siblings to take care of. They have full time jobs, and it’s these situations under the surface that other adults don’t always see.”

Approximately 3.2 million 12- to 17-year-olds in the United States had at least one major depressive episode within a 12-month period, according to a 2019 report by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Starting a conversation on teenage depression is especially relevant today in light of COVID-19 and social distancing protocols. Self-quarantine is not good for mental health, according to Cognevich. With schools closed, many young adults have lost their escape, their structure and their support systems in one fell swoop.

One of the topics the book tackles is the problem of forced positivity. Words of encouragement with the best of intentions might feel suffocating to a teenager stuck in a dark place. It doesn’t help a young person who is genuinely depressed or suicidal to hear that they are living the best days of their lives and that they “don’t know real trouble yet.”

“In some ways, this concept of there’s always a silver lining can be really unhealthy,” Cognevich said. “Asking someone who is suffering to see the good in the situation can leave them feeling invalidated. It could make them feel worse about themselves when they feel pressured to feel a certain way.”

In her book, Cognevich speaks of letting go of the expectation that every experience must be turned into something positive. She encourages those who want to help to listen to their loved ones and acknowledge their feelings without trying too hard to make it better.

“Just to say, I see you, and I want to meet you where you’re at, is very important,” Cognevich said.

For more information on Cognevich’s book, please visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1538137607/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0.