Some people assume that depression is a disease that only affects adults. But the truth of the matter is that depression does not discriminate by age. It can affect children, teens, and young adults.
According to American Family Physician, major depression happens in approximately 3 to 5 percent of adolescents and children. Some children may be more likely to experience depression based on factors such as their home environment and whether or not they have a family history of it. After a child enters puberty, it becomes more likely that they may experience states of depression.
If your child has shared with you their feelings, or you are worried they might be experiencing depression, there are ways to handle it effectively. Clear Recovery Center can help with treatment and advice. Every child and situation is different, but there are certain things to keep in mind to make the best of the situation and work towards progress.
Understanding the Ways Depression May Impact Your Child
Childhood and adolescence are two very important stages in an individual’s life. They are filled with milestones of growth and development, but also pain and confusion. American Family Physician notes that depression in children and adolescents can disrupt some of these important changes, making it substantially harmful to a child’s health.
Another negative impact of depression in kids and adolescents is a disconnect in school, which leads to poor performance. A depressed teen or child may also struggle with various family and peer relationships if they are going through something like this.
Recognizing the Symptoms
If you are aware of the symptoms of depression, then you are more likely to recognize the signs of this illness in your own child. We here at Clear Recovery Center can also help you pick up on these cues if you’re struggling to determine whether your loved one is depressed or not.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, there are a few major symptoms to be aware of in a child or teen that might have depression.
One warning sign is a loss of interest in activities or subjects that a child normally found to be fun. This includes social situations as well. Some children are less social than others, but a significant shift could be a warning sign.
Other emotional changes include:
- Increased aggression
- Expression of low self-worth or hopelessness
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
You may also observe physical symptoms. For example, you may notice an increased time spent sleeping and greater fatigue.They may try to run away from home or make comments about death. Another physical symptom is change in weight. This usually presents itself as a weight gain.
Listen to you child. They may share important information about their own feelings. This is usually a good strategy for older individuals, such teens and young adults, who can communicate their own emotions. If they’re struggling to communicate with you, the professionals at Clear Recovery Center can help you determine whether your child is showing physical and emotional signs of depression.
The Importance of Not Treating Them Like a Victim
When it comes to helping your child, teen, or young adult that might be going through depression or another mental health issue, there is no magic answer you can give to fix them. That is important to remember. Instead, just be there for them. Lending them your support is one of the best ways to get them to open up.
There are certain things you should avoid if you child or teen is experiencing depression.
One of those things is treating them like a victim. Often times when someone is having issues with their mental health, they are made out to be victim that needs to be felt sorry for.
Try to avoid overusing language that makes you child feel like there is something inherently wrong with them, they have been wronged, or they need to get over it or just deal with it. If you treat them like a victim, it can make them feel worse about themselves.
Introduce the Idea of Counseling at Their Pace
If you child or teenager is experiencing depression, you should help them understand that they are not alone and that they do have resources available to them. Counseling and therapy are both great options for a kid who is dealing with mental health issues. Clear Recovery Center has both of these options available. Many educational institutions also have licensed counselors that are available to any kids that might need it. If they have a trusted adult or friend that they can talk to, encourage them gently to open up.
Let them know the options available to them, and hopefully they will make the choice to go when they are ready. If they are especially young, they might require more parental instruction or guidance. A professional may even recommend that they go on some form of antidepressant. Although antidepressants are less common for children, there have been some approved for children under 17 with good results according to American Family Physician.
Create an Open Channel for Communication at Home
This might be a given for your family, but perhaps the most important thing you can do to support a child with depression is to let them know they can always talk to you. Even if your child knows this, tell them again. This will help them to feel loved, accepted and cared for. Feeling like they have no one they can talk to only leads to greater isolation and allows their illness to get worse.
If you think that your child or teenager might be experiencing depression, there are ways to talk to them about it. It is also important that you do enough research to try and understand the disease and how it works. Supporting your child through tough times is a stressful, but a necessary part of being a parent. Reach out to learn more about how we can help your family and to learn about what we do.