Talking With Your Child About Depression
Depression is a difficult topic for parents and children to discuss openly. But it's important that you do.
Talking with your child about depression can help them understand what they're feeling, and may even lead to better treatment outcomes. It can also help strengthen the bond between you and your child.
You may feel unsure of how to start the conversation, or what to say. But there are resources available to help.
Note: This article for informational purposes. If you help or advice, please see you local GP or nurse.
The following are some tips for talking with your child about depression:
Acknowledge That Depression Is A Real And Serious Illness
Depression is both a real and serious illness, just like any other medical condition. It's important that your child is aware of this.
They may not have words to express how they are feeling, but they need to know that their feelings are still valid.
They will likely have some idea which is why it is important to keep the lines of communication open.
Ask them what is going on for them and really listen to the answer.
It is not a conversation that any parent or guardian wants to have but it will be worth it in the end.
Help Them Understand That Depression Is Not Their Fault
Depression is not caused by anything that your child has done wrong - it's important to reassure them of this.
They may feel like or assume that they are to blame, or that they could have done something to prevent it but this isn't the case.
Depression is an illness that can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background.
Your child needs to know that they are not responsible for their depression, and that it is not their fault.
Be Open And Honest About Your Own Experiences With Depression
If you've experienced depression yourself, sharing your story can help your child feel less alone. It can also help them better understand what they're going through.
It is easier to put yourself in someone else's shoes when you have first-hand experience and in the same vein, it is sometimes easier to take advice from someone who has been there.
Encourage Your Child To Express Their Feelings
It's important to give your child a chance to express how they're feeling.
This can be done through talking, writing, or drawing. Again, they may not have the words, however, art can be a helpful outlet.
Younger children may benefit from using puppets or stuffed animals to act out how they're feeling. This can help them feel more comfortable expressing themselves.
Older children and teens may be more reluctant to talk about their feelings.
You can encourage them by letting them know that it's okay to express what they're going through, and that you're there to listen.
Reassure your child that they are not alone in how they're feeling, and that you understand what they're going through.
Offer Support And Understanding
It's important to offer support and understanding to your child.
Depression can be a very isolating illness, so it's crucial that your child feels loved and supported.
Reassure them that you love them, no matter what. Let them know that you're there for them and that you'll support them through this.
Offer to help in any way you can, whether it's practical help around the house or just being there to listen. If they're not ready to talk, that's okay - just let them know that you're there when they are.
Help Them Understand That Depression Is Treatable
Depression is treatable, and there is hope for recovery. Helping your child understand this can give them the motivation they need to seek treatment.
Try To Avoid Stigma
Depression is often stigmatised - it is human nature to make assumptions about someone who appears to be struggling, but it is important to avoid doing this with your child.
Your child is going through a tough time, and they need your support - not judgement.
Try to avoid making assumptions or comments about their depression, and instead focus on offering understanding and love.
Therefore, it is vital that you remind your child that they are not their illness - they are still the same person, despite a possible diagnosis.
Seek Professional Help If Needed
If you're concerned about your child's mental health, seek professional help. There is no shame in getting help from a qualified professional.
Your child's doctor can assess their symptoms and refer them to a mental health specialist if necessary.
If you feel like you are out of your depth, mind.org.uk is a great place to start - they offer advice on how to support someone with a mental health problem, as well as where to find help and support.
How do kids describe depression?
Depression can be difficult for anyone to understand, let alone children. Younger children may not have the words to describe how they're feeling, however, they may act out in ways that are uncharacteristic or show signs of sadness and irritability. Older children and teens may express their feelings more directly. They may say things like "I'm worthless" or "I hate myself".
How do I know if my child is depressed?
If you're concerned about your child's mental health, it's important to trust your instincts. If you feel like something is wrong, it's best to err on the side of caution and seek professional help.
What is the main cause of depression among young people?
There is no one single cause of depression. It can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors.
What is the most effective way to treat adolescent depression?
The most effective way to treat adolescent depression is through a combination of medication and therapy.
How do I help my teenager who doesn't want help?
If your teenager doesn't want help, it's important to respect their wishes. However, you can still offer your support and let them know that you're there for them if they need you. If you're concerned about their mental health, you can also seek professional help.
What are the long-term effects of untreated adolescent depression?
The long-term effects of untreated adolescent depression can be very serious. Depression can lead to school truancy and poor academic performance, as well as substance abuse and self-harm. In extreme cases, it can even lead to suicide which is why it's important to seek help if you're concerned about your child's mental health.
When does depression usually develop?
Depression can develop at any age, but it often begins in the teenage years.
How long does depression last?
Depression can last for weeks, months, or even years if it is left untreated.
What are the warning signs of suicide?
The warning signs of suicide include expressing feelings of hopelessness, talking about wanting to die, and making plans for suicide. If you notice any of these signs in your child, it's important to seek professional help immediately.
Depression is a complex and serious issue. It’s important to talk with your child about depression in an open, honest way. This will help them understand what they’re feeling and how to get help if they need it.
Depression doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender. Your child may be more likely to experience depression if someone in their family has had it before.
There are many different types of depression. The most common type is major depressive disorder, which involves symptoms like persistent sadness, lack of interest in activities, changes in weight or appetite, difficulty sleeping, and feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
If you think your child might be experiencing depression, don’t wait to get help. Talk to them about seeing a mental health professional who can diagnose them and recommend treatment options.