Depression can be defined as a serious mental illness, which can affect children’s physical and mental health. It’s normal for children to feel down, be cranky or think negatively, this is just part of growing up. But it is much more than just feeling sad, blue or low. Just because your child seems sad doesn’t mean he or she has depression.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of depression in children vary. It often goes undiagnosed and untreated because they are seen as normal emotional and psychological changes that occur during growth. Not all children have all of these symptoms. Some common symptoms are, mood swings, difficulty in sleeping or concentrating, change in their eating habits, feel sad or angry all the time, low self-esteem, have suicidal thoughts and impaired performance in schoolwork. If your child is exhibiting any of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Few Tips for Parents To Help Their Child In Depression
Being a parent is not easy. It’s very difficult to deal with your child’s pain. You often feel scared and feel helpless. These are some ways in which you can help your child
- Don’t blame yourself
Not blaming your child will help your child in many ways. It will hopefully keep you from blaming yourself or your child. This is no one’s fault. It will give you strength to fight with it in a positive way.
- Don’t panic
This will definitely not help your child. It can be successfully treated more than 80% of the time. As long as your child has a good doctor and supportive parents, he or she has a very good chance of recovering. As much as a good doctor is important, supportive parents are most important for a child with depression. The key to everything is showing patience. If you feel like you need help coping with the situation, you might want to try individual therapy or family counselling.
- Read about depression
Read up about depression, its symptoms, causes, and treatment. The more you know, especially about treatment options, the more effectively you can help your child.
- Reassure your child that it’s okay to be depressed
Children tend to hide things from parents that they think will upset them. Make it clear to your child that nothing is as upsetting to you as being unable to help them because they’re afraid to hurt you.
- Talk to your child frequently
Talk to your child about his feelings and the things happening at home and at school that may be bothering him. Try to spend as much time as possible with your kid. when someone’s depressed, talking is often the last thing they want to do. Provide some good opportunities, like taking a walk or preparing a meal together, for your child to talk to you.
- Take charge of your child’s treatment
Make sure that their doctor is knowledgeable, understanding and someone who really listens. Take charge of your child’s treatment. Ensure that your child keeps appointments and takes the prescribed medication. You may have to be tough and persistent, but treatment, either medication or therapy or both, is the only thing that will make any difference.
- Don’t be afraid of the “S” word
You may be afraid to ask your child if they are having suicidal thoughts, but it’s very important. Either they are already having suicidal thoughts, in which case it may be a big relief to talk about it. If they haven’t, talking about it openly will allow them to bring the subject up again if this change.
- Encourage your child to enter therapy
Talk therapy, especially Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, can help your child break out of negative and self-hating thought patterns that are generated by depression. Follow your child’s treatment plan. Make sure your child attends therapy and takes any medicine as directed. Treatment works, but it may take a few weeks. The depressed child may not recognize changes in the mood right away.
- Be positive
Help your child relax with physical and creative activities. Focus on the child’s strengths. Talk to and listen to your child with love and support. Help your child learn to describe their feelings. Help your child look at problems in a different more positive way. Break down problems or tasks into smaller steps so your child can be successful.
As a parent, it’s very common to deny that your child has depression. You may put off seeking the help of a mental health care professional because of the social stigmas associated with mental illness. It is very important for you to understand depression and realize the importance of treatment so that your child may continue to grow physically and emotionally in a healthy way.