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Saving Lives with Purpose: Dr. Kolbaba's Guide to Combatting Teen Depression



Welcome to the Lean to the Left podcast blog, where we delve into critical social issues through the lens of today's political climate. This week, we explore a profoundly urgent topic: teenage depression and the alarmingly high rate of suicide among young people.


According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide ranks as the second leading cause of death for adolescents aged 10 to 14 and the leading cause for those aged 15 to 25. In this episode, Dr. Scott Kolbaba, an esteemed Internal Medicine physician from Chicago, explains how finding purpose can play a pivotal role in combating this tragic epidemic.

 

## Understanding Teenage Depression

 Dr. Kolbaba, a seasoned medical professional with a decorated career, was deeply moved by a young girl’s battle with depression that he encountered in the ER.


This event spurred his commitment to addressing teenage depression, leading to significant contributions like his bestselling children's book, Clara's Magic Garden, which explores the journey of a young girl who, much like many teenagers today, struggles with feeling inadequate before eventually finding her unique purpose and happiness.

 

## Discovering Purpose to Combat Depression

 Dr. Kolbaba emphasizes a vital factor that can help combat depression: finding a purpose. Studies, such as the MIDAS study, show that individuals with a defined purpose tend to be healthier and happier. In the context of teenagers, especially those battling depression, identifying and nurturing a passion can significantly improve their mental health.

 

In the podcast, Dr. Kolbaba shares anecdotal evidence from his life. For instance, he recounts the change he saw in a young patient who initially appeared depressed, but lit up when discussing writing. Helping teenagers focus on a passion, whether it’s sports, arts, or volunteering, can provide them with a sense of purpose and reduce feelings of depression, Dr. Kolbaba explains.


It's all about saving lives with purpose.

 

## Creating Impact Through Simple Actions

 Dr. Kolbaba also highlights how small actions from parents and significant adults can create a big impact.


Simple acts like engaging in meaningful conversations or spending quality time can unveil a child's interests and passions. For instance, a seemingly unsuccessful fishing trip with his grandchildren turned out to be a memorable and joyous adventure for the kids — evidence that meaningful time spent together can foster purpose and happiness.


Although they were skunked (didn't catch any fish), and Dr. Kolbaba felt it was probably a waste of time, a couple years later one of the kids told him it was the best day of his life -- and now is an avid fisherman.

 

## Saving Lives With Purpose

 According to Dr. Kolbaba, the current mental health system is overburdened, with long waiting times for psychiatric help. Thus, complementing traditional treatments with purposeful engagement could be a game-changer, he says.


Kids who develop a purpose are less likely to be depressed, he says, adding that this approach can serve as both a preventive measure and an adjunct to professional mental health care.

 

## The Role of Social Media and Modern Challenges

 Social media's portrayal of perfect lives considerably impacts teenagers, often exacerbating feelings of inadequacy and depression.


Dr. Kolbaba advocates for real, meaningful connections over virtual validation. He also touches on the additional pressures from modern societal issues such as divisiveness and economic challenges, which further strain family dynamics.

 

## Adoptive Parenting and Purpose

 Dr. Kolbaba brings personal experience into the discussion by sharing his journey of adopting children, including two from Romania and another from Chicago, completing his family of seven children.


He highlights the significance of understanding and supporting children from diverse backgrounds, tackling issues like bullying and ensuring they find their passion and sense of belonging.

 

Dr. Kolbaba urges everyone — parents, teachers, neighbors — to help teenagers discover their purpose. This intervention not only enhances their well-being but can potentially save lives. Moreover, with the rise in school shootings and other societal stressors, fostering a sense of purpose and belonging for our youth has never been more crucial, he adds.

 

## Additional Insights

 Towards the end of the discussion, Dr. Kolbaba shares heartwarming stories from his Amazon bestseller, Physicians Untold Stories, which recounts miraculous experiences in the lives of doctors, providing hope and inspiration.

 

We hope this blog post provides valuable insights and encourages you to engage with teenagers more purposefully. Discovering and nurturing their passions can make a profound difference in their lives and mental health.

 

To further explore Dr. Kolbaba’s insights and hear more remarkable stories, do check out our full podcast episode linked below.

 

Subscribe to our podcast at Lean to the Left and don’t forget to rate us — five stars would be cool!


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Fighting Teen Depression with Purpose
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