Depression is often viewed as an adult issue, but it can affect teens and children as well.
Occasional sadness and low mood are normal for all of us, but if your child seems sad all of the time there may be a deeper issue.
Identifying depression early on and supporting your child through it can help them overcome depression episodes and get the treatment they need.
Here’s what you need to know about kids struggling with depression.
Signs of Teen Depression
Here are some signs your child may be struggling with depression:
- Low self-esteem and feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
- Difficulty focusing and making choices. Oftentimes, grades will slip.
- Lack of regard for the future.
- Major changes in eating patterns or weight.
- Lack of interest in activities your child previously liked.
- Decreased interest in being around family or friends.
- Suicidal thoughts or frequent thoughts of death.
Action Steps to Take
If you notice the symptoms above, your child may be suffering from depression. First, you should try to talk to your child about how they feel and if anything, in particular, is bothering them. Bring up your concern with your child’s doctor as well, as therapy may be helpful for some kids. Suicidal thoughts should be treated as an emergency, so take those very seriously and act immediately.
How to Help Kids with Depression
As a parent, it can be hard to watch your child struggle with depression. While you do not have total control, there are some things you can do to help.
Promote overall health with good nutrition, sleep, and daily exercise. Limit screen time and plan active activities with family and friends. Make sure you get one-on-one time with your child and offer encouragement for healthy activities.
Provide a safe and secure environment for your child. Bullying or grief can contribute to depression. Find ways to reduce stress while your child is handling depression. It may be necessary to alter schoolwork and at-home chores for a period of time. Keep dangerous items, like guns, knives, alcohol, and medications locked up.
Ultimately, many kids with depression need outside help from a licensed psychologist. Help your child find a therapist they are comfortable with, and be willing to participate in sessions if the therapist believes it will help. Follow the treatment plan, making sure your child attends therapy and takes any prescribed medications.