Childhood Depression: Like adults, children and teenagers can also experience depression. Children with depression can become withdrawn, irritable and often put themselves down. They find it difficult to see the good things in situations and regularly overreact to small problems. As with any mental health concerns it is important to seek advice and treatment early before the difficulties develop further. Child and adolescent depression can be very concerning for family members and parents can feel helpless.
How you can help:
- Try and understand what your child is feeling. Talk to them about their day and be open to active listening. For example, “It sounds like you had a bad day. Let’s talk about it”.
- Sometimes children and teenagers will try and block out their loved ones when they are struggling. They may state they don’t know what they are feeling or say they don’t want to talk. In these cases it is important to avoid trying to immediately problem solve. That is, instead of suggesting solutions try attempting to connect with the underlying feelings the child appears to be going through. For instance, “It seems like you are quite down. I can see you are not wanting to be around anyone right now. I think you are feeling extremely sad. Am I right? Tell me more about those feelings”.
- Don’t argue with their thoughts and feelings. Trying to directly convince someone who is depressed that it is ‘not that bad’ can make them withdraw further. For example, if a child states “I’m so dumb” and an adult tells them “No you aren’t” you may have missed an opportunity to explore what is going on for them. Instead, exploring what has made them feel this way can help you unpack the problem further. This can then allow you to gently challenge the idea. Such as, “So you think you are dumb because you didn’t get all of your spelling words correct. That sounds like a really difficult thought. Who else didn’t get them all correct? I wonder if you think they are dumb too”.
- Encourage exercise and activity. Even though people with depression often lack energy and do not want to participate in things they use to enjoy it is important to encourage and facilitate this. Generally the more active children and teenagers with depression become the more their symptoms reduce.
Professional Help: If you would like to seek advice or support in regards to your child’s mood please contact us today on 02 4929 2223. Our experienced and qualified Psychologists look forward to supporting you and your family.