Taking Care Of Yourself
Lastly, its important to make sure that youre taking care of yourself. It can be emotionally and physically exhausting to be a parent of someone who is struggling with depression. Know that you are not alone, and get support for yourself. Make sure that you make time to do things you enjoy and go out with friends. The phrase: happy mommy = happy baby still applies!
Concerned Your Child Is Suffering From Anxiety
Take our 3-minute anxiety assessment to see if he or she could benefit from further diagnosis and treatment.
And then theres the genetic component. Anxiety disorders do run in families but a family history doesnt mean a child is destined to develop a disorder. Parental behavior can exacerbate and worsen childrens problem but thats not the same as saying that parents are the cause of the child having the problem in the first place, Lebowitz says.
Much depends on the childs innate sensitivity, family dynamics, and life experiences. Some children have a natural predisposition or vulnerability to anxiety or have difficulty regulating their feelings of anxiety and fear. And thats not because their parents did this or didnt do that, stresses Lebowitz, That said, parents can and should play an important role in helping children learn to cope better with their anxiety.
Managing Depression In Children: Support At Home
As well as working with mental health professionals, here are some simple and effective ways that you can help your child:
- Make time to talk with your child and listen to their feelings. You could do this when youre making dinner together or going for a walk.
- Gently encourage your child to do something they would normally enjoy when theyre feeling depressed instead of dwelling on their feelings. For example, a trip to the park or spending time with friends.
- Manage your childs stress and tension. Regular family routines that make time for exercise, relaxing and socialising with friends can help. Getting enough sleep can also reduce your childs stress levels.
- Look for apps that can help your child learn relaxation strategies, like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualisations and mindfulness.
- Speak with your childs teacher or school counsellor to find the best ways to support your child at school.
When siblings and other family members know that your child has depression, they can help by being accepting and compassionate. But before you tell other people, ask your child whether this is OK. Its important for your child to give permission for you to tell others.
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How You Can Help
If your teen is diagnosed with depression, there are ways you can be supportive. Educate yourself about depression so you can have a better idea of what your teen is going through. Be available to listen and encourage your teen to talk to you about anything that might be bothering them.
Support your teen’s daily routines, such as taking medications and eating healthy, encourage healthy self-help strategies, and make sure your home is a safe, comforting place.
Start getting your teen help for depression by talking to their doctor. Working with a mental health professional and your family doctor is the best beginning strategy for a teen suffering from depression. This treatment strategy will help your teen deal with their current problem and prevent the depression from getting worse and causing more problems in school, their social lives, and their development.
Some teens who are suffering from depression do not want to seek help. They may beg, get upset with you, or become violent when you suggest it. Even if your concerns are met with resistance, it is still important that you seek help for your teen.
Explain Depression To Your Teen
Comparing depression to another medical illness that your child is familiar with may help them to frame depression as an illness and better understand their symptoms, the importance of treatment, and that they shouldn’t feel alone or abnormal. Older children and adolescents are especially sensitive to feeling different or out of place. Talk with your child and encourage them to ask questions.
- For Example: “Depression is a mental illness. It is like other illnesses like the flu in the way that it can make you feel tired or have a headache. It can also affect your moods and feelings. It can make you feel sad, lonely, frustrated, angry, or scared.”
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How Can I Help A Child With Anxiety
Theres normal anxiety and then there are anxiety disorders. If you child has occasional anxiety that doesnt disrupt their life, you can help them by acknowledging how they feel, helping them take control of their thoughts and behaviors. If the child has a real anxiety disorder, its important they see a child psychologist or other health care professional with expertise in dealing with anxiety disorders. Whether the anxiety is mild or more extreme, experts agree that its important that parents do not accommodate the childs disorder. Be supportive, acknowledge what the child is feeling, talk to the child about the anxiety but dont become an enabler. Changing your behavior to placate the child is what experts call “accommodation.” It may keep the peace now but in the long run, it will make things worse.
Depression In Children And Young People May Look Different Than It Does In Adults
Depression in young people can present as irritability and anger. They may ask you to back off or go away. This anger can be mistaken for teenage rebelliousness or an irritable child with behaviour difficulties. Young people may not recognise their problem as depression or, if they do, may feel unable to talk about it. Often the feelings that come with depression are so strong they do not tell anyone else because they feel no good, they are scared they are going mad, or they think that no one will believe or support them. They may choose to tell their friends before theyre able to talk to adults. Therefore, if you notice these symptoms, ask your children about them.
There is a strong association between depression in young people and anxiety, conduct disorders, substance abuse, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and eating disorders. These other problems can co-exist with depression or present in a similar way to depression. This is another reason to see a doctor as soon as possible if you have any concerns about the mental health of your child or teenager.
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When Should I Seek Professional Help For My Anxious Child
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and our experts, you should consult a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience treating children with an anxiety disorder when the childs behavior or anxiety:
- Disrupts the household and interferes with family activities and life
- When the child gets upset multiple times a day or week
- When the frequency and intensity of the fears escalate .
- When the anxiety leads to significant avoidance behavior. The child continually and consistently makes excuses to avoid school or other situations that may provoke anxiety.
- When the disorder is making it difficult for the child to interact with, make or keep friends.
- When sleep habits are disrupted
- When you begin to see compulsive behaviors and rituals such as repeated hand washing, counting, checking things and when the child refuses or is unable to leave the house without performing these rituals.
- When your child shows a pattern of physical symptoms that are disruptive and detrimental to the child
- When your child experiences panic attacks characterized by heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, hyperventilation.
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.
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Resources For Parents Of Anxious Children
- Lebowitz, E.R.,et al. Parent-Based Treatment as Efficacious as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Childhood Anxiety: A Randomized Noninferiority Study of Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions.Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Accessed February 25, 2021
- Merikangas, K., Hep, J., Burstein, M., Swanson, S., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., Benejet, C, Swendsen, J. . Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: results from the National Comorbidity Survey ReplicationAdolescent Supplement .Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 980-989. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2010.05.017 Accessed February 25, 2021
Tips For Helping A Depressed Teen
If you are concerned that your teen may be depressed, but they appear uninterested in getting help or perhaps outright refuse it, there are steps that you can take to help them. Proceed with gentle but firm methods to persuade your teen to get help. These varied approaches have all been effective in helping depressed teens move forward.
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Tips For Disciplining A Depressed Child
Depression doesnt just affect adults, it also affects millions of children and adolescents.
Some of the symptoms that accompany childhood depression include irritability, social withdrawal, and low energy. Children with depression may also struggle to manage their behavior.
In 2013, 11 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds experienced a major depressive episode. Many younger children are also diagnosed with depressive disorders, such as persistent depressive disorder or disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, every year.
Children with depression may require a slightly different approach to discipline. Here are seven tips for disciplining a depressed child.
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.
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Child Depression Ages 6
Children, like adults also suffer from depression, although their symptoms may not be the same. Additionally, children respond well to treatment. Depression is defined as an illness when the feelings of depression persist and interfere with a child or adolescents ability to function.
About 5 percent of children and adolescents in the general population suffer from depression at any given point in time. Children under stress, who experience loss, or who have attention problems, learning, conduct or anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for depression. Depression also tends to run in families.
The behavior of depressed children and teenagers may differ from the behavior of depressed adults. Child and adolescent psychiatrists advise parents to be aware of signs of depression in their youngsters.
Signs of depression in children. If one or more of these signs of depression persist, parents should seek help:
- Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying.
- Persistent boredom low energy.
- Low self esteem and guilt.
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure.
- Increased irritability, anger, or hostility.
- Difficulty with relationships.
- Frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches and stomachaches.
- Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school.
- Poor concentration.
- A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns.
- Talk of or efforts to run away from home.
- Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self destructive behavior.
Impact On School Performance
Below are some of the ways depression can impact kids at school:
Even if your child is only experiencing a few of the above symptoms, you can see how it would affect their school performance. Here are some tips and strategies for school success when your child has depression.
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How Common Is Childhood Depression And Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are among the most common mental health disorders in children. About 7% of children ages 3 to 17 have anxiety about 3% deal with depression.
Both depression and anxiety tend to be higher in older children and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17. An estimated 3.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 13.3% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17. An estimated 31.9% of adolescents have had an anxiety disorder.
Seek Out One Key Teacher
Tweens and teens in middle and high school see multiple teachers throughout the school day. If your child does not have a specific homeroom or advisory teacher assigned to them, find a teacher to fill that role. This should be a teacher that your child feels comfortable talking to and that can be sure to be a regular point of contact throughout the day for other teachers and you.
Discuss with the teacher how much they will collect information from other teachers and how often the monitoring teacher will communicate with you. Having one teacher who is central for school communication will keep the school teachers communicating with each other instead of not noticing problems or trying separate strategies that overload your child.
Different schools have different ways teachers communicate with each other and with parents. Work with your child’s school to establish clear and open communication.
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What Causes Child Depression
Different things can lead to depression. There is no single cause. Some children have genes that make them more sensitive to depression. They may have other family members who have been depressed.
Some children go through stressful things. Some have faced loss, trauma, or hardships. Some go through serious health conditions. These things can lead to sadness or grief and sometimes to depression.
Having extra support during and after hard times helps protect children from depression or lessen the effects. But even when they have good support, some children get depressed. Therapy can help them heal, feel better, and get back to enjoying things.
What Does An Anxiety Disorder Look Like In Young Children
Depending on the type of anxiety, there are a range of physical, psychological and behavioral indications. With toddlers and young children, parents may notice increased irritability, excessive crying, tantrums as well as more difficulty self-soothing or self-regulating. Young children may exhibit regressive behaviors such as bed-wetting or excessive clinginess. Children with anxiety disorders may experience stomach and headaches, frequent bathroom urges, rapid breathing, chest pains, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, poor appetite, muscle aches and tension and sleeping difficulties. Other indicators are: hypervigilance, frequent reassurance seeking, feeling overwhelmed by new experiences avoiding situations– school, people and places, events, social gatherings– pretty much anything that triggers or fuels their anxiety.
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Can Children Really Have Depression
Yes. Childhood depression is different from the normal “blues” and everyday emotions that children go through as they develop. Just because a child seems sad doesn’t necessarily mean they have significant depression. But if the sadness becomes persistent or interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, or family life, it may mean they have a depressive illness. Keep in mind that while depression is a serious illness, itâs also a treatable one.
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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What To Expect From Treatment
Treatment for a depression can take time and sometimes involves some trial and error. No two kids are the same, and its important to remain patient with the process to help your child feel safe.
- Education: Educating your child about depression is a crucial first step. This helps your child understand the possible causes , understand brain chemistry , and reduces self-blame. It also normalizes what your child is going through.
- Psychotherapy: Counseling is a good option for kids struggling with depression. There are different kinds of counseling and what works for one might not work for another. For very young children, play therapy is an option. For older kids and teens, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be effective. It can take time to find the best patient/therapist match. Make several calls and dont be afraid to ask questions. You know your child best.
- Medication: Medication might be necessary for moderate to severe cases, but medication works best when combined with counseling. Medication management is important. Close supervision of the prescribing physician is recommended.
- Hospitalization: For severe cases of depression, including suicidal ideation, hospitalization is sometimes necessary.