10 Things to Know if Your Child is Dealing with Depression
August 24, 2019
It can be difficult to know the best approach to take when your child is suffering from depression, here are 10 things you can do to help you & your child.
1. Make sure your child is getting the help they need.
If a child is exhibiting the signs of depression, the first step any parent should take is to have them evaluated by a professional. A medical professional will be able to diagnose the issue, as well as ensure that the child is on the correct treatment path, (therapy, counselling or medication).
2. Acknowledge and validate what they’re going through.
Taking the time to acknowledge that your child is going through a hard time can help them to understand that you are there to support them in this journey.
3. Listen. Only offer advice if you have received permission.
Try not to jump to problem-solving. When dealing with a child who has depression, it is all about timing; try to only offer advice once you have received their permission by asking questions like “That sounds difficult, would you like my advice on this?”. If they don’t want your input, you can always follow up by saying “No problem. I understand and am always here to listen or give you advice when you are ready.”
4. Seek your own therapy.
It can be a challenge when you are dealing with a depressed child, along with the other stresses of life. Seeking therapy to not only talk it out, but to gain an expert opinion, as well as management tips can be a useful tool to take advantage of. Therapists and counselors can offer advice on managing your child, manage your expectations as well as lend an unbiased ear to listen to what you are going through
5. Be patient.
The mental health recovery process is not a smooth and quick one. It is important that a parent is patient with their child and understands that even though there is progress being made, recovery has ups and downs, and everyone heals at different times.
6. Celebrate ups with your child.
Highlight the positives in this otherwise, very difficult time in your child’s life. Saying “I am proud of you” and “you are going through so much, yet you are still so kind to others” can do wonders for your child’s healing and self-esteem.
7. Stay firm and continue to enforce rules.
It can be tricky to be a parent and be supportive when depression causes negative behaviors in your child. Try to be aware of whether the bad action is caused by the depression, (i.e. being too depressed to go to school), versus a bad behavior, (i.e. skipping school behind your back). Try to help them understand that their condition does not give them a free pass to misbehave or disrespect others.
8. Do not compare the good days to the bad.
With depression, there will be good days and then there will be bad; it is just the nature of the disease. Try to celebrate the good days, but do not compare them to the bad ones. For example, if your child is participating in after school activities one day, but is too depressed to do so on another, it is not helpful to point this out to then, and can possibly cause an argument or fight.
9. Encourage contact with friends and activities (but do not push it).
When someone is depressed, they are not depressed 24/7/365, there will occasionally be moments where they feel better. This is a good time to encourage socializing with friends or participating in other activities. Be careful not to push too hard, as this can make them feel worse about not being emotionally able to do what you are suggesting.
10. Be a role model.
Try to not let your life revolve around your child’s depression. It can make them feel guilty, but more importantly, if you continue to live your life not centered around their depression, it will help show them that there is life outside of what they are going through. It can encourage them to also get out there and enjoy all that life has to offer!
If you think your child is suffering from depression, find out if a clinical trial may be right for them.