Helping Kids With Depression Get Treatment
Some teens will want to go to therapy when you ask them and some wont. For those who are resistant, know that they arent going to suddenly open up to the idea of therapy quickly, but you can help guide them towards treatment by opening the door and then waiting patiently for them to walk through it.
Try saying, I know youre having a hard time, and I have some ideas of things that could help. If youd like to talk with me about them, let me know. Im here for you. Its also a good idea to ask them if they has any suggestions on how you might be able to help. You might be surprised with what they have to say.
Be aware that your teen might tell you to back off. Thats fine its their way albeit a slightly irritable one of telling you that they need space. Its normal for teenagers to want independence, and its important for you to respect that. You can respond by saying, Ill give you more space, but know that Im here for you if you ever want to talk or hear my suggestions.
If they do come to you wanting help, be prepared. Do your research. Find two or three therapists they can interview and tell them that they can choose the one that they feel most comfortable with, and think will help the most. Finding a therapist who is a good fit is extremely important, and making the choice theirs will help them feel ownership over their own treatment, which is extremely important to teens and sets the stage for effective therapy.
What’s The Best Way To Help A Child With Depression
Aim for fast and effective action. Both the quality of parent-child communication and the tone of the family environment are important. If there are tensions in the household, seek to address and reduce them, even if it means marital therapy for the parents, Support is crucial. Let a child know you are aware of their struggles, that they are not alone, and demonstrate willingness to listen when they want to talk. Parents can help children understand their feelings by putting names to them and distinguishing one from the other, such as sadness and loneliness knowing what someone is feeling is a requirement for knowing what remedial steps are necessary. Parents can also help spot and bring awareness of a child to the negative self-talk that can trigger a downward emotional spiral. Going for walks or bike rides with a child has special value: It not only counters lethargy and presents opportunities for nurturing the parent-child bond, but outdoor activity is itself beneficial and involves exposure to sunlight, a natural antidepressant.
Suicide Warning Signs In Depressed Teens
Seriously depressed teens, especially those who also abuse alcohol or drugs, often think about, speak of, or make attempts at suicideand an alarming and increasing number are successful. So its vital that you take any suicidal thoughts or behaviors very seriously. Theyre a cry for help from your teen.
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Tips For Kids And Teens With Depression
Depression can be overwhelming and can make you feel hopeless, but it is important to remember it is treatable. Ask a parent or trusted adult for support. The following tips can also help you cope.
If you are in immediate crisis or feel like hurting yourself or others, call 7CRISIS or 273-TALK, or text HOME to 741741. You can also call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department. Dont wait to get help.
Can Depression In Children Be Prevented
Children with a family history of depression are also at higher risk of depression. Children who have parents with depression tend to have their first episode of depression earlier than children whose parents donât have the condition. Children from chaotic or conflicted families, or children and teens who abuse substances like alcohol and drugs, are also at greater risk of depression.
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The Importance Of Self
Dealing with a depressed child is difficult, no matter their age. Recognizing your need for rest and respite from the day-to-day challenges is an important part of helping your young adult child. If youre exhausted and have nothing left to give, you cannot care for your family.
When you get on an airplane, they talk about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first so you can help others. That applies here too, says Lownes. I would also encourage parents to be in therapy or seek out help. Depression is like a giant vacuum that can really suck you in.
Draw On Outside Expertise
Many resources for parents exist. Heres a quick list:
- Depressed Child: A Parents Guide for Rescuing Kids, by Douglas A. Riley
- Help Me, Im Sad: Recognizing, Treating and Preventing Childhood Depression and Adolescent Depression, by David G. Fassler and Lynne S Dumas
- Lonely, Sad and Angry: How to Help Your Unhappy Child, by Barbara D. Ingersoll
- Raising Depression-Free Children: A Parents Guide to Prevention and Early Intervention, by Kathleen Panula Hockey
- The Childhood Depression Sourcebook, by Jeffrey A. Miller
Get mental health resources now
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Watch For Signs Of Suicidal Behavior
Although its difficult to talk about, be aware that clinical depression often increases the risk of suicidality, especially among teens. Understand the issue of teen suicide, and if you have any reason to suspect that your child is actively suicidal, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 800-273-TALK .
The bottom line is this: You know your child best, and you are in the best position to intervene if you feel he or she is suffering from clinical depression. So be aware, keep your eyes open, be a safe refuge to which your child can turn and, if clinical depression is determined to be part of your familys journey, know that God has promised to never leave you or forsake you . Rest assured that He will walk with you every step of the way.
What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
Also visit the online treatment locator.
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Emotional And Physical Symptoms
In addition to the behavioral indicators listed above, there are other emotional and physical signs that your child might be experiencing depression.
Emotional indicators include:
- Relentless introspection Kids, and especially teens, can be moody and introspective at times. But depression can amplify this natural tendency into something destructive.
- Negative self-concept Everyone can tend toward self-criticism on occasion. Again, the teenage years can lend themselves to this with a heavier focus on physical appearance. But depression can lead to relentless and exaggerated criticism of not only physical appearance, but also intelligence, competence and general worth.
- Anxiety Some kids are natural worriers. A certain amount of this is normal and even necessary. But depression-related anxiety can be crippling, interfering with basic day-to-day functioning.
- Hopelessness Kids can be especially susceptible to feelings of hopelessness because they lack the experience and maturity to recognize the ebb and flow of good times and bad times throughout life. As an adult, you may be tempted to roll your eyes when your child feels like math is an insurmountable obstacle, or when your teen feels like the breakup of a dating relationship is the end of the world. But try to look at it through their eyes and from their experience.
Physical indicators might include:
Causes Of Teen Depression
Biological factors, such as genes, can increase a teens risk of developing depression. However, environmental and social conditions also have a role to play. The following factors may trigger or exacerbate symptoms of depression in your teen:
Bullying.Being bullied by peers can add stress to a teens life and affect their self-esteem. This can, in turn, trigger feelings of intense helplessness and hopelessness.
Other mental and physical health conditions. Teen depression is associated with a number of other mental health problems, including eating disorders, self-injury, anxiety, ADHD, or a learning disorder. The struggles that accompany these conditions may lead a teen to feel unconfident and frustrated when it comes to academics and socializing. Similarly, physical disabilities or chronic illness can also play a role.
Past and present stressful experiences. Past trauma from violent or abusive situations can put teens at risk of depression as well as post-traumatic stress disorder . Recent events, such as the loss of a loved one, can also trigger a depressed mood.
Lack of social support. Teens who feel unsupported by family or peers are at risk of depression. For example, a teen may be struggling with their sexual identity in a hostile or unaccepting environment.
Depression and social media use
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What Evaluation Might Look Like
Your child’s doctor can evaluate your child’s health, make a diagnosis, recommend treatments, and refer you to another professional if necessary.
- A medical doctor can order blood tests, review family history, evaluate current medications, sleep patterns, and diet in an effort to determine if there is a physical cause for the depression.
- A psychological evaluation or psychological testing, completed by a psychologist over several sessions can provide extensive information about the severity and nature of the symptoms, contributing factors, and the possible presence of suicidal ideation. This option is best suited for cases where the diagnosis is unclear.
- An individual therapist specializing in treating teens can evaluate the symptoms based on talking to the teen and family members. This information helps point the way to make specific recommendations for next steps that are likely to be beneficial to your teen.
Information revealed about your teen’s symptoms in the evaluation plus the recommendations of the professional who administers it will make it easier to determine the next steps to take.
Listen And Offer Emotional Support
Be sure not to ask endless questions, devise quick solutions, mask their sadness, and show empathy with how they feel. Do not forget that opening up to you meant an answer to them. Let the child know that you will always be there for them anytime they need someone to talk to.
Try as much as you can not take things personally, especially if you get sad, angry, or frustrated during the talk. The burst of emotions is an authentic reflection of what the child feels- and they thought of you as the best person to express the build-up. However, if things get out of hand, its good to seek professional help.
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Should I Worry That My Child Will Commit Suicide
National surveys from the government show the overall risk. In 2019, for example, nearly 9% of high school students attempted suicide at least once over the course of a year. Thinking about suicide also continued to rise from previous years . Although less common, young children do attempt suicide as well.
Watch your child closely for the warning signs of suicidal behavior, including:
- Focus on death and dying.
- Giving away possessions.
- Combination of the two.
Do I Need Health Insurance To Receive This Service
The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.
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Keep Up With Friends And Activities
Even if you do not want to do things, you should still try to do them. Push yourself to try to do fun things, even if you have to go through the motions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the activities you used to enjoy may not be safe in their typical form. Talk to your parent or guardian about activities you can have fun doing while still being safe.
Do Children Get Depressed If A Parent Is Depressed
A family history of depression can put a child at risk for depression in several ways there may be genetic transmission of vulnerability, but just as likely depression keeps parents from engaging with children in ways needed for neural development, a sense of security, and a sense of self. Further, depressed parents can unwittingly transmit their negative world view or negative styles of interpreting experience to their children.
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How To Help A Child With Depression
Abbys mom had no idea why her daughter was struggling so much it was as if someone had taken Abby over. Her personality was different. She didnt smile as much and always wanted to be alone. It was like she didnt want to be part of the family anymore. She didnt do much with her friends and wasnt even excited about dance which she used to love.
Abbys mood was so grumpy. When her mom asked her to do something, Abby snapped. She had a big overreaction to making mistakes. Abby was negative about things and people around her, but she was mostly negative about herself. Abby was suffering from childhood depression, and her mom didnt know what to do.
Some stats say that 10-15% of children and teens have experienced depression. I have had depressed children as clients, and one of the hardest things for parents to understand is how to help and not make it worse. Most parents want their child to just snap out of it and get better, but recovery from depression can often take time.
Here are a few ways to help your son or daughter with childhood depression.
Work With Your Childs School
Get to know your childs teachers as early as possible. If you get to know your childs teachers before they begin to struggle in school, you will already have established open communication with the school and your childrens teachers so that they know you.
With an open dialogue established, you and the school will be able to share observations about changes in your childs behavior and school performance.
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Take Care Of Yourself
A mental health crisis is stressful for everyone in the family, especially when a child suffers from a mental illness. As a parent of someone who is affected, its critical that you set aside time and energy to maintain your wellness.
Talk therapy is an excellent option, as it only requires one hour a week and is highly effective. Seeing a therapist regularly will allow you to sort through your challenges and set proper boundaries.
Your therapist will also have the background to provide the right context for what your child is going through. This can give you a playbook for the process.
People are often ashamed to talk about mental health due to stigma. It can be frightening when your adult child has a mental health issue, but remember:
Theyand youare not alone. One in four Americans has a mental health issue in any given year. Its very likely that your neighbors or co-workers have dealt with something similar. Just like them, with the right plan and attitude, your child will get through theirs and return to a happy, productive and enjoyable life.
Depression Coping Skill #: Schedule Positive Activities
Many people assume that depression is caused by a negative event in life: for kids, maybe this is a move, a divorce, or an experience being bullied. While its true that tough life situations can trigger depression, researchers who studied depression found that a lack of positive experiences can also lead to low mood. Kids struggling from depression often withdraw: an elementary schooler might prefer staying home to going on play dates, or a preteen might drop out of her extracurriculars. This can create a vicious cycle where the lack of positive, rewarding activities in a childs life make the depression worse, which in turn makes it harder to get out of the house.
You can help your child by encouraging activities that are social, fun, or provide a sense of accomplishment. Therapists call this technique behavioral activation, and its a treatment for depression in adults, as well as kids. Even if a child is reluctant, scheduling these kinds of activities and sticking to them can have a positive snowball effect. Think of it like going to the gym: you might really dread going the first time, but once you try it, youll realize it wasnt so bad. In fact, you might feel so energized that you get motivated to go back the next day. The same thing can happen for children: the first outing might be really hard, but they may surprise themselves, and have more fun than they expected, which can make the next activity easier and more fun.
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Tips For Parents And Caregivers Of Children With Depression
Watching a child deal with depression can be distressing for parents. The good news is adults dont need to feel powerless. If you are a parent who is concerned about your child or one of their friends, here are some tips about how to support them. This guide on common sayings to avoid, and what to say instead, can help as well.