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.
What Should I Do If I Think My Child Is Depressed
If you think your child is depressed:
Talk with your child about sadness and depression. Kids might not know why they are so sad and why things seem so hard. Let them know you see that they’re going through a hard time and that you’re there to help. Listen, comfort, offer your support, and show love.
Set up a visit with your child’s doctor. Let your child’s doctor know if sad or bad moods seem to go on for a few weeks. By itself, this doesn’t always mean a child is depressed. Tell your child’s doctor if you have also noticed changes in your child’s sleep, eating, energy, or effort. Tell them if your child is dealing with a loss, a big stress, or hardship.
The doctor will do a physical exam. A full exam lets the doctor check for health issues that could cause your child’s symptoms. They can also check for depression. Your child’s doctor may refer you to a child therapist. The doctor’s office might have a child therapist on staff.
Set up a visit with a child therapist. A child therapist will spend time talking with you and your child. They will do an in-depth check for depression by asking questions and listening. The therapist can explain how therapy can help your child.
Take your child to therapy visits. The therapist may suggest a few visits, or more. Therapy can take time, but you will see progress along the way.
Encourage Them To Think About What They Enjoy Doing
Take a step-by-step approach towards helping them do these activities when they feel able to. This could be things like exercising or playing sport, listening to music, doing something creative like colouring or drawing, watching a favourite film, reading a favourite book or going for a walk with you.
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Teen Depression Tip #: Being In The Now
If your teen daughter is going through depression, her nervous system is feeling it too. She might experience detachment, or a numbness where there is a lack of feeling, sensation, and/or emotion. She could be feeling cut off from the world, from herself, and her environment a loss of connection.
Helping your daughter connect to the present moment by using grounding and mindfulness techniques can help to rewire the nervous system to a place where sheâs more relaxed and calm so she can feel safe in her body and connect to self, others, and environment.
Here are a few ways you can help your daughter feel more grounded:
- Slow down the breath with one hand on your chest or stomach while you breathe in and out
- Taking a breath in and humming as you breathe out
- 54321 Senses Exercise
- Placing feet on the floor and really noticing the pressure and sensations of your feet being connected to the ground
- Placing hands on the wall and applying pressure. Noticing what it feels like
- Taking a walk and combining the 54321 exercise
- Rubbing your palms together to create some heat and slowly noticing as they cool off
- A little cold exposure like washing hands in cold water, splashing face gently with cold water, etc.
How Is Teen Depression Diagnosed
There aren’t any specific medical tests that can detect depression. Health care professionals determine if a teen has depression by conducting interviews and psychological tests with the teen and their family members, teachers, and peers.
The severity of the teen depression and the risk of suicide are determined based on the assessment of these interviews. Treatment recommendations are also made based on the data collected from the interviews.
The doctor will also look for signs of potentially co-existing psychiatric disorders such as anxiety or substance abuse or screen for complex forms of depression such as bipolar disorder or psychosis. The doctor will also assess the teen for risks of suicide or homicide. Incidences of attempted suicide and self-mutilation is higher in females than males while completed suicide is higher in males. One of the most vulnerable groups for completed suicide is the 18-24 age group.
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If You Think Your Child Is Depressed
If you think your child may be depressed, it’s important to talk to them. Try to find out what’s troubling them and how they’re feeling.
Whatever is causing the problem, take it seriously. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it could be a major problem for your child.
If your child does not want to talk to you, let them know that you’re concerned about them and that you’re there if they need you.
Encourage them to talk to someone else they trust, such as another family member, a friend or someone at school.
It may be helpful for you to talk to other people who know your child, including their other parent.
You could also contact their school to ask if the staff have any concerns.
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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Suicide Warning Signs To Watch For
- Talking or joking about committing suicide
- Saying things like, Id be better off dead,I wish I could disappear forever, or Theres no way out
- Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying
- Writing stories and poems about death, dying, or suicide
- Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury
- Giving away prized possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for the last time
- Seeking out weapons, pills, or other ways to kill themselves
Get help for a suicidal teen
If you suspect that a teenager is suicidal, take immediate action! For 24-hour suicide prevention and support in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. To find a suicide helpline outside the U.S., visit IASP or Suicide.org.
To learn more about suicide risk factors, warning signs, and what to do in a crisis, read Suicide Prevention.
Does Depression Medicine Work For Teen Depression
Yes. A large number of research trials have shown the effectiveness of depression medications in relieving the symptoms of teen depression. One key recent study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, reviewed three different approaches to treating adolescents with moderate to severe depression:
- One approach was using the antidepressant medication Prozac, which is approved by the FDA for use with pediatric patients ages 8-18.
- The second treatment was using cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, to help the teen recognize and change negative patterns of thinking that may increase symptoms of depression.
- The third approach was a combination of medication and CBT.
At the end of the 12-week study, researchers found that nearly three out of every four patients who received the combination treatment — depression medication and psychotherapy — significantly improved. More than 60% of the kids who took Prozac alone improved. But the study confirmed that combination treatment was nearly twice as effective in relieving depression as psychotherapy alone.
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Teen Depression Tip #: Self
Self-care might bring up the staple image of bubble baths, candles and soothing music. This is great if thats your vibe. Self-care is in fact sooo much more than that. The way I think of it, is any action that you take that is one step above just surviving. It may not take you
into thriving and thats ok!
Help your daughter, by getting clear for yourself on what some of your self-care rituals are. Do you have an amazing lotion that you use? What about reading quietly for a few minutes after everyones in bed? Do you invest in therapy or coaching? How about going to the gym or go out with a friend from time to time. Its for you to decide what self-care is and what is a level up from just getting by.
You can encourage your daughter to be curious about how she is taking care of herself, to look at things from a different angle. Bring awareness to it, and then ask how it impacts her.
Body movement is an especially neglected one that I like to bring awareness to in my sessions with teen girls. Itâs an integral part of overall health. Your daughter can check in with herself by asking things like, âHow am I taking care of myself physically? Whatâs my sleep like? How is my tech use impacting my physical health?â The key here is not to tell her what to do, instead have her come to her own reflections on how physical health behaviors are positively or negatively impacting.
How To Help Your Teenage Daughter Cope With Depression
Are you concerned that your teen daughter has been isolating herself more and more?
Shes just not excited about the activities that used to bring her joy?
Maybe she is in her bedroom a lot, sleeping, and otherwise always on her cell phone.
Does this sound familiar?
You might wonder how you can tell whether your teen daughter is going through normal adolescent changes or is possibly clinically depressed.
You may know that depression is very common in adolescence. It actually affects approximately 25% of the female teen population and is a legitimate concern.
Often, the interests that teens had as a child will change. They may have been into ballet or tap dancing and now they seem more interested in taking naps or being on their cell phone chatting with their friends.
Part of this is the normal development of a teenager who is on the road to becoming an individual with unique ideas, interests, and values. These are often different from their parents and can be an effort to create their own identity.
However, the isolation and lack of engagement in activities may also be a sign of depression. It is important to help support and encourage your teenager in developing her own ideas and values. Hint: Try asking her opinions about a TV show you watched together or about an issue that was brought up in their class.
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Changes In Sleeping And Eating Habits
Teens need a lot of sleepup to ten hours a night. But if your daughter is sleeping longer than thator isnt getting much sleep at all, be aware. Take her schedule into consideration, but if her schoolwork and activities are keeping her from getting a healthy amount of sleep, it might be time to consider an adjustment.
Depression or anxiety can trigger changes in your daughters eating patternseither more or less than she nsignificantormally would. Depressed teens sometimes show a preference for sugary foods because sugar gives a temporary mood lift.
How Childline Adapted To Covid
The pandemic meant big changes for us all including Childline. Children needed us more than ever so we adapted how we deliver our service so our volunteers could continue to support young people safely. As well as practicing social distancing in our service centres, we also created new volunteer roles – answering emails from children and young people – to allow volunteers to work virtually.
Volunteer for Childline
Between April 2020 and January 2021, Childline counsellors have delivered over 170,000 counselling sessions to children and young people. Mental and emotional health make up over a third of all the counselling sessions delivered, with concerns ranging from coping with stress and loneliness to suicidal thoughts and self-harm. Childline is always here to listen.
Young people also turned to the Childline website for support, advice and distraction throughout the pandemic. Over the last year:
“Most of us go on here because we need help. Were not happy, we dont feel safe telling people we know face-to-face, and we feel alone. I honestly thought that not many people must be feeling how I felt, and while it makes me sad to see how many of us arent OK, it also makes me so, so thankful that a) Im not alone, theres this huge community of people supporting others they dont even know, just for the sake of humanity and compassion, and b) that all of us on here have the guts to ask for help.”Childline website user
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Tip : Adopt Healthy Habits
Making healthy lifestyle choices can do wonders for your mood. Things like eating right, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep have been shown to make a huge difference when it comes to depression.
Get moving! Ever heard of a runners high? You actually get a rush of endorphins from exercising, which makes you feel instantly happier. Physical activity can be as effective as medications or therapy for depression, so get involved in sports, ride your bike, or take a dance class. Any activity helps! If youre not feeling up to much, start with a short daily walk, and build from there.
Be smart about what you eat. An unhealthy diet can make you feel sluggish and tired, which worsens depression symptoms. Junk food, refined carbs, and sugary snacks are the worst culprits! They may give you a quick boost, but theyll leave you feeling worse in the long run. Make sure youre feeding your mind with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Talk to your parents, doctor, or school nurse about how to ensure your diet is adequately nutritious.
Aim for eight hours of sleep each night. Feeling depressed as a teenager typically disrupts your sleep. Whether youre sleeping too little or too much, your mood will suffer. But you can get on a better sleep schedule
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.
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If You Or Your Child Are Thinking About Suicide Or Hurting Yourself Please Use One Of These Resources
If you or your child is in immediate crisis and/or danger, you can call the Orange County Behavioral Health Crisis Assessment Team at 1-866-830-6011. They will come to where the child is to do a safety evaluation. You can also call 911 or proceed to the nearest emergency department.
If you or your child is struggling, you can access these resources 24 hours a day:
- California Youth Crisis Hotline 1-800-843-5200
- Suicide Prevention Center 1-800-784-2433
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line 741741
Why Depression Treatment Might Not Be Working
If your child already is in treatment but it isnt helping, ask them why they think that is. What isnt helpful or what dont they like about therapy? Are there things about therapy they do like? Maybe you can work together to find a therapist who does more of the things they like. If you do consider changing therapists, its important to discuss this with their current therapist before the decision to change is made. Many times, the therapy and/or the therapeutic relationship can be improved.
Keep in mind that therapy usually isnt effective if the person in treatment isnt committed to it, or is doing it to please someone else. Your child should want to get better for themselves. Unfortunately, sometimes people have to get worse before they want help. But the good news is that if you lay the groundwork by strengthening your connection now, theyll be more likely to turn to you for support when theyre finally ready.
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