Does Depression Affect Children
Depression can affect people of any age, including children. Although children naturally have mood swings as they grow and develop, depression is different. The disorder can affect how children interact with friends and family. It may prevent them from enjoying school, sports, hobbies or other normal childhood activities.
In children, depression and anxiety often go hand in hand. Anxiety is a medical condition that causes feelings of fear, panic or worry about everyday situations. Sometimes, depression or anxiety in children gets chalked up to growing pains. But if you have any concerns about behavioral or mental health, talk to a healthcare provider.
Teen Depression Vs Normal Teen Behavior
It is normal for your teen to have mood swings, become frustrated with you or other authority figures in her life, and even have a bad attitude now and then. The difference between a mentally healthy teenager and a depressed teenager is that a mentally healthy teenager will also get excited about her life, enjoy being with her friends, and pursues hobbies and interests.
Change is the keyword when trying to tell if your daughter is clinically depressed. Consider the normal for your daughter and then identify how she has deviated from her baseline behavior. A child who prefers a few friends or a quiet book isnt depressed if thats always been a norm in her life. If shes never been a great student, low grades arent an accurate indicator.
If you are still unsure, seek a professional opinion. If your daughter is going through a depression, a therapist will be able to help your child start their recovery. If she is not depressed, she may still benefit from the experience.
A Letter To Parents With A Depressed Teenage Girl
Dear Moms and Dads,
Were here for you. We understand. We know you may feel a great weight on your shoulders that you might believe you alone must bear. But we want you to understand something: you are not alone.
Were here to support you and help you through this experience. Yes, your daughters mental health is the most important thing in your world right now. We get that. This letter, though, is for you and about you.
Because youre an essential part of your daughters healing process.
She needs you and you can be there for her. Please understand that youre equipped to handle this. Even if you know nothing about depression or mental illness, what you have the most of, and what you know the most about, is what she needs from you the most: your unconditional love, your capacity for understanding, and your compassion.
We dont know you personally, of course. We dont know your daughter. And we dont know the specific details of her situation or yours. What we do know because we work with teenage girls with depression every day and meet with and talk to their parents every day is that what youre going through right now is not easy.
But lets get back to you.
You may feel sad, lost, confused, or angry. You may have a knot in your chest or the pit of your stomach that wont go away. Some of you may stay up all night worrying about your daughter. You may wish you could go back to before whatever before was like for you and your family.
Make that three things:
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Why You Should Talk To Your Daughter About Depression
Depression is on the rise among teensespecially teen girls. But most girls arent getting the treatment they need.
Theres still a stigma attached to mental health that makes it a taboo subject for some parents. Other parents lack knowledge about depression or simply struggle to know how to bring up the subject.
Depression In Children: Warning Signs
Parents should be particularly vigilant for signs that may indicate that their child is at risk for suicide.
Warning signs of suicidal behavior in children include:
- Many depressive symptoms
- Social isolation, including isolation from the family
- Talk of suicide, hopelessness, or helplessness
- Increased acting-out of undesirable behaviors
- Increased risk-taking behaviors
- Focus on morbid and negative themes
- Talk about death and dying
- Increased crying or reduced emotional expression
- Giving away possessions
If you suspect that your child or teenager is depressed, take the time to listen to their concerns. Even if you don’t think the problem is of real concern, remember that it may feel very real to them. Itâs important to keep the lines of communication open, even if your child seems to want to withdraw. Try to avoid telling your child what to do. Instead, listen closely and you may discover more about the issues causing the problems.
If you feel overwhelmed or unable to reach your child, or if you continue to be concerned, seek professional help.
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How I Support My Daughter With Her Mental Health
Wednesday, 31 May 2017Sienna
Sienna talks about how she supported her daughter through her mental health issues and shares her tips for supporting a loved one.
While out with my daughter today she said something that I couldnt get it out of my head.Let me first tell you that my daughter is going through a medical discharge from the army. This is based on being diagnosed with mental health issues brought on by trauma while on duty.
“Yes, that bloody illness that is creeping up on so many, has targeted my daughter.”
And I am supporting her through it.I should also add in that my daughter is 12 weeks pregnant with her first child and is suffering from the most awful sickness ever.As a family we have helped her through every day.However, whilst out with my daughter, trying as usual to keep her busy, she mentioned that she had seen an old friend of mine with her daughter, who had not been as supportive.Although my friend embraced my daughter with love and warmth her daughter looked my daughter up and down in disgust and walked away.I frowned in pity about what my friends daughter had done, but wasnt surprised .She responded with its ok, Im used to it, its how most people look at me these days. As she said that, with very distant looking eyes, I felt her pain and wanted to take it away from her.
“Mental health problems change you, it doesnt matter what your background is, no one is immune, as I so well know.”
Read about types of mental health problems
What Causes Depression In Children
As in adults, depression in children can be caused by any combination of things that relate to physical health, life events, family history, environment, genetic vulnerability, and biochemical disturbance. Depression is not a passing mood, nor is it a condition that will go away without proper treatment.
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Signs Of Depression In Children
Symptoms of depression in children often include:
- sadness, or a low mood that does not go away
- being irritable or grumpy all the time
- not being interested in things they used to enjoy
- feeling tired and exhausted a lot of the time
Your child may also:
- have trouble sleeping or sleep more than usual
- not be able to concentrate
- interact less with friends and family
- be indecisive
- eat less than usual or overeat
- have big changes in weight
- seem unable to relax or be more lethargic than usual
- talk about feeling guilty or worthless
- feel empty or unable to feel emotions
- have thoughts about suicide or self-harming
- actually self-harm, for example, cutting their skin or taking an overdose
Some children have problems with anxiety as well as depression. Some also have physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach aches.
Problems at school can be a sign of depression in children and young people and so can problem behaviour.
Older children who are depressed may misuse drugs or alcohol.
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Shes had counselling and is now coping a lot better eating more healthily and sleeping at more regular times.
Thank you for your kindness and practical advice.
Read Also: How To Help A Loved One With Depression And Anxiety
How To Talk To Your Daughter About Her Mental Health
Although its important to be aware of the signs of depression in any teenager, its especially important to be on the lookout in your daughter. Its also important to talk to your daughter about depression.
Teenage girls may not recognize that theyre depressed. Instead, they may experience physical symptoms, such as stomachaches or headaches. Or she may report feeling tired all the time and you might see increased irritability.
She also might not know how to tell you shes having a hard time. But if you strike up conversations about depression first, she may feel more compelled to talk.
Here are a few ways you might strike up a conversation about your teens mental health:
What Are The Symptoms That Parents Should Watch Out For
Symptoms of depression vary from child to child, so here are some behaviors parents can keep an eye out for, which may hint that your child is depressed or in need of mental health care.
- The child seems very irritable keep in mind depression in young kids can look more irritable than sad or down.
- The child is spending a lot of time in their room and does not want to interact with family or friends
- The child has a significant decrease in energy level and is spending more time in bed/sleeping than usual
- The child is very sensitive and cries easily
- The child appears to get angry out of nowhere
- The child does not want to go to school
- Big changes to childs appetite suddenly eating significantly more or less
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Listen And Provide Emotional Support
Try not to ask too many questions, come up with quick solutions or gloss over their sadness. Empathise with how theyre feeling and remember theyve taken a risk in opening up to you let them know they can talk to you as often and for as long as they need to.
Try not take it personally if youre on the receiving end of anger, frustration and sadness, as its often a sign of how much your child trusts you when they can express these feelings with you. However, it is completely understandable if this sometimes becomes too much for you to manage as a parent – and if that happens, it’s a good idea to seek professional help and advice.
Work With Your Childs Treatment Team
If you suspect your child has depression, speak to his pediatrician or a mental health professional. Depression is treatable, but without appropriate intervention, it may get worse. Treatment may include therapy, parent training, or medication.
Work with treatment providers to learn about the steps you can take to best support your childs mental health. Inquire about the specific strategies you should use to address behavior problems like non-compliance and disrespect.
Read Also: Methods Of Therapy For Depression
What Is Teen Depression
The teenage years can be really tough and its perfectly normal to feel sad or irritable every now and then. But if these feelings dont go away or become so intense that you feel overwhelmingly hopeless and helpless, you may be suffering from depression.
Teen depression is much more than feeling temporarily sad or down in the dumps. Its a serious and debilitating mood disorder that can change the way you think, feel, and function in your daily life, causing problems at home, school, and in your social life. When youre depressed, you may feel hopeless and isolated and it can seem like no one understands. But depression is far more common in teens than you may think. The increased academic pressures, social challenges, and hormonal changes of the teenage years mean that about one in five of us suffer with depression in our teens. Youre not alone and your depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw.
Even though it can feel like the black cloud of depression will never lift, there are plenty of things you can do to help yourself deal with symptoms, regain your balance and feel more positive, energetic, and hopeful again.
If youre a parent or guardian worried about your child
Why Is My Child Depressed
Things that increase the risk of depression in children include:
- family difficulties
- physical, emotional or sexual abuse
- a family history of depression or other mental health problems
Sometimes depression is triggered by 1 difficult event, such as parents separating, a bereavement or problems with school or other children.
Often it’s caused by a mixture of things. For example, your child may have a tendency to get depression and also experienced some difficult life events.
Also Check: What It Feels Like To Have Depression
Learn About Therapy Options
Different kinds of therapies can help kids and teens with depression:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy helps kids recognize and change their negative beliefs or behaviors. This short-term therapy tends to involve 5 to 20 sessions.
- Interpersonal therapy focuses on relationships with other people. The goal is to help kids address problems so they can have healthier relationships.
- Family therapy can be a helpful starting point for kids who say things like, Im not depressedI just hate my family. This type of therapy can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts.
Its very important to find a therapist your child likes and trusts. Also, keep in mind that some therapists use a combination of techniques such as a mix of CBT and IPT.
Depression Is Not Who You Are
Rather than promoting healthy changes in thinking, acting, decision-making, and connection, we are hindering the positive expectancy and motivation that is critical to the treatment of these problems. And we are inhibiting an important discussion about risk factors, prevention, and recovery.
When we give teens the message that this is who they are,â that their brains are imbalanced, and that depression is a disease that âjust shows up,â our attempts to help are possibly doing the exact opposite.
Depression and anxiety in teenagers are very real and very destructive when left alone, but treatment that focuses on building resources and skills is very successful.
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Tip : Support Your Teen Through Depression Treatment
As your depressed teenager goes through treatment, the most important thing you can do is to let them know that youre there to listen and offer support. Now more than ever, your teenager needs to know that theyre valued, accepted, and cared for.
Be understanding.Living with a depressed teenager can be difficult and draining. At times, you may experience exhaustion, rejection, despair, aggravation, or any other number of negative emotions. During this trying time, its important to remember that your child is not being difficult on purpose. Your teen is suffering, so do your best to be patient and understanding.
Stay involved in treatment. Make sure your teenager is following all treatment instructions, whether its attending therapy or correctly taking any prescribed medication. Track changes in your teens condition, and call the doctor if depression symptoms seem to be getting worse.
Be patient. The road to your depressed teenagers recovery may be bumpy, so be patient. Rejoice in small victories and prepare for the occasional setback. Most importantly, dont judge yourself or compare your family to others. As long as youre doing your best to get your teen the necessary help, youre doing your job.
The Importance Of Accepting And Sharing Your Feelings
It can be hard to open up about how youre feelingespecially when youre feeling depressed, ashamed, or worthless. Its important to remember that many people struggle with feelings like these at one time or anotherit doesnt mean that youre weak, fundamentally flawed, or no good. Accepting your feelings and opening up about them with someone you trust will help you feel less alone.
Even though it may not feel like it at the moment, people do love and care about you. If you can muster the courage to talk about your depression, it canand willbe resolved. Some people think that talking about sad feelings will make them worse, but the opposite is almost always true. It is very helpful to share your worries with someone who will listen and care about what you say. They dont need to be able to fix you they just need to be good listeners.
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Why Children And Young People Need Childline
Children dont always know who to trust with their worries. Without a safe place to turn, they can put their trust in the wrong person or keep their fears to themselves. Home isnt a safe place for every child, and the pandemic made even more children feel trapped, lonely, and unsure who to trust.
“I just wanted to say a big thank you to the counsellor I spoke to this morning. I dont know what I would have done if you had not been there to talk to. You made me feel so much better about myself and gave me hope that maybe I will make it. I am so grateful for everything you have done. I was able to feel like my feelings are valid and that I have worth and a reason to live.”Girl aged 14
Childline gives every child access to free, confidential support whenever they need it. In 2020/21, we delivered 76,000 councilling sessions to children and the young people contacting us for the first time. Childline is always here to listen, whatever their worry.
Childline is here for children and young people wherever and whenever they need us. Feedback from young people has told us:
- Childline helps them feel less alone with their problems
- Childline helps them see their problems from a new perspective
- Talking about problems with Childline helps them open up with other people.
In 2018 we created childline.org.uk/kids specifically for children under-12, to ensure our information is accessible for young people of all ages.