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How To Help A Child With Depression

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Teach Them Coping Skills

How To Help Kids With Depression

Being a kid can be overwhelming and stressful these days. The pressures our kids are dealing with are more than I experienced when I was their age. This is why you need to teach your kids how to deal with stress. Here are some healthy coping skills to teach them: talking through their feelings, journaling, writing or playing music, being active, finding something that helps them feel like they have purpose, shifting negative self-talk, and taking care of their bodies through healthy eating, exercise, and sleep.

Take Care Of Yourself

A mental health crisis is stressful for everyone in the family, especially when a child suffers from a mental illness. As a parent of someone who is affected, its critical that you set aside time and energy to maintain your wellness.

Talk therapy is an excellent option, as it only requires one hour a week and is highly effective. Seeing a therapist regularly will allow you to sort through your challenges and set proper boundaries.

Your therapist will also have the background to provide the right context for what your child is going through. This can give you a playbook for the process.

People are often ashamed to talk about mental health due to stigma. It can be frightening when your adult child has a mental health issue, but remember:

Theyand youare not alone. One in four Americans has a mental health issue in any given year. Its very likely that your neighbors or co-workers have dealt with something similar. Just like them, with the right plan and attitude, your child will get through theirs and return to a happy, productive and enjoyable life.

What Are The Symptoms Of Parental Depression

Depression affects a parents mood, sleep, appetite, and energy level. Typical symptoms of depression include persistent sadness and the loss of interest in activities that used to bring pleasure, along with sleeping too little or too much, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite , poor energy and thoughts of suicide. Untreated depression raises the risk of substance abuse.

Signs of depression that are specifically related to parenting include:

  • Lack of responsiveness to a child. Parents with depression are less likely to respond appropriately to the cues of their young children, Smith says.
  • Inappropriate parenting behaviors. Some depressed parents are neglectful and disengaged from their children, while others are hyper-intrusive and over-engaged, Smith says. What these seemingly opposite behaviors have in common, she says, is the fact that neither is sensitive to a childs cues.;
  • A childs tardiness or truancy at school. Children may consistently arrive late or miss school because their parents dont have the energy or organizational skills to get out the door on time.

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Supporting A Depressed Child At Home

  • 1Offer your child unconditional support. One of the cornerstones of helping a depressed child is unconditional love and support from their parents and family members. Remind your child that you are there to talk and help them in any way you can, even if what they say is unpleasant.XResearch source
  • Keep in mind that it is important to reinforce your statements about love and support by repeating them to your child often. Even if your child doesnt believe them, saying them is important.
  • Remind yourself that your childs inactivity or inability to engage is not because of laziness, but a disease. This can help you be more understanding and supportive of their problems.
  • Avoid telling your child to snap out of it at any time. No person would ever choose to be depressed and your child would likely snap out of it if they could.
  • 2Inform your childs school. Teachers and other educational professionals are there to promote your childs welfare. Keeping educational professionals in the loop about what your child is experiencing can ensure that they give your child a little extra love and support, too. Remember that educational professionals are also required to keep the information about your childs depression confidential, so your child shouldnt have to worry about other students or parents finding out.XResearch source
  • Ask teachers to consider giving your child less homework or being more understanding if your child doesnt finish their homework because of the depression.
  • Want To Know How To Help A Teenager With Depression Become Informed And Know Your Optionswant To Know How To Help A Teenager With Depression Become Informed And Know Your Options

    How to Help Your Child Struggling with Depression

    Each individual is different. Depression also manifests itself differently in every person. It is important to be educated about depression and treatment options in order to find what will work best for your child. Depression is most often treated with psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both. Mindfulness is also an increasing practice in treating depression. Regardless of the approach, parents and children should be patient. It takes time for improvement to happen. Be sure you check with your childs physician to verify there is no underlying cause for the symptoms of depression.

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    Actionable Steps To Help Students With Depression

    1. Develop a Working and Collaborative Relationship with the Student

    Do not be afraid to talk with students with depression about how they feel. In fact, saying nothing says a lot, and asking about how they feel will almost never cause harm.

    Many times, they are seeking someone who cares about them and can recognize their pain without them having to seek help on their own, although it might not seem that way. Above all, dont give up on them!

    2. Avoid Negative Techniques

    Strategies such as punishment, sarcasm, disparagement, passive-aggression, or other negative techniques are ineffective and likely will only reinforce feelings of incompetence and low self-esteem, which may worsen the symptoms of depression.

    Remember that these students are not choosing to be depressed.

    They want to feel better and do well, just as you want them to do well. When depressed, students lack the personal resources to do their best work and overcome their challenges.

    3. Make Adjustments or Accommodations in Assignments or Tasks

    Do not lower expectations or give unearned grades. However, educatiors can give more time, break assignments into smaller pieces, offer extra help in setting up schedules or study habits, provide flexibility in assignment schedules, or pair the student with others who express an interest in helping as part of a range of classroom adjustments.

    4. Plan for Success

    5. Consult With Your School Psychologist, School Counselor, or School Social Worker

    Learn About Therapy Options

    Different kinds of therapies can help kids and teens with depression:

    • Cognitive behavioral therapy; helps kids recognize and change their negative beliefs or behaviors. This short-term therapy tends to involve 5 to 20 sessions.

    • Interpersonal therapy focuses on relationships with other people. The goal is to help kids address problems so they can have healthier relationships.

    • Family therapy can be a helpful starting point for kids who say things like, Im not depressedI just hate my family. This type of therapy can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts.

    Its very important to find a therapist your child likes and trusts. Also, keep in mind that some therapists use a combination of techniques such as a mix of CBT and IPT.

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    Looking After Yourself When Your Child Has Depression

    Its not your fault if your child develops depression.

    It can be really hard for you to see your child feeling upset, sad or withdrawn for a long time. In families, the way one person is feeling and behaving can affect other family members.

    Although its easy to focus on looking after your child,;its important to look after your own health and wellbeing too. Consider seeking professional help for yourself if stresses and worries are affecting your everyday life. Your GP is a good person to talk with.

    If youre physically and mentally well, youll be better able to care for your child.

    Talking to other parents can also be a great way to get support. You can connect with other parents in similar situations by joining a face-to-face or an online parent support group.

    If You Are The Parent

    How to help children with anxiety and depression

    Find a time to talk to your child with as few distractions as possible. Start by telling them you care about how they are feeling. Then, you can try some of these techniques:

    My first thought was What did I do wrong? What did I do or not do as a parent when she was a baby or when she got older? But, depression is an illness its not due to any particular thing that you did.

    – David, parent of a teen with depression

    Describe why you are concerned
    • Im worried because Ive noticed youve been crying a lot lately.
    • Im concerned because it seems that you are feeling angry and unhappy these days.
    • Im sad because you dont have much energy to do the things you used to enjoy doing, like hanging out with your friends.
    • I worry about your safety when you . . .
    Understand their feelings

    Keep your questions open-ended, rather than questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. You can say things like:

    • Sometimes when people are depressed they feel sad, angry, alone, or just like they want to cry all day. How have you been feeling lately?
    • Once your child begins to open up, you can make a simple statement like, Tell me more about that to get more information.
    Work together

    Most children and teens with depression feel alone or lonely. You can reassure your child that you are going to be there by saying things like:

    • You are not alone. Im going to help you work through this problem.
    • We can handle this together. Im going to stick by you.
    Be clear and honest

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    Does Depression Affect Children

    Depression can affect people of any age, including children. Although children naturally have mood swings as they grow and develop, depression is different. The disorder can affect how children interact with friends and family. It may prevent them from enjoying school, sports, hobbies or other normal childhood activities.

    In children, depression and anxiety often go hand in hand. Anxiety is a medical condition that causes feelings of fear, panic or worry about everyday situations. Sometimes, depression or anxiety in children gets chalked up to growing pains. But if you have any concerns about behavioral or mental health, talk to a healthcare provider.

    Adjust Diet And Exercise

    It’s a common misconception that medication can act as the be-all and end-all of childhood depression treatment. However, there are often several factors at play that can impact treatment trajectory.;

    Lifestyle factors can also impact medication efficacy.;Thats where eating a healthy diet, exercising, and getting proper rest comes in, explains Dr. Valente. If you dont do those things, then medication may not have the robust response that we want.

    Dr. Valente recommends adhering to a diet of healthy foods, such as the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to a;reduction of depressive symptoms.;Aside from diet, parents can help children manage depression by encouraging routine exercise,;which has shown to have comparable effects to antidepressants in some cases.

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    Help Them Change Their Self

    Low self-esteem can be a big problem for children, especially teens. Theyre going through all kinds of changes and might feel awkward, lonely or anxious. Teach your children to identify and replacenegative self-talk with positive affirmations andempowering beliefs. It will rewire their brains tofocus on the positive.

    Consider The Implications Of Negative Consequences

    How to help a child manage depression

    Children with depression need negative consequences for breaking the rules, but you should choose those consequences carefully. Taking away your childs ability to socialize with friends, for example, could make his depression worse.

    Short-term consequences, like time-out, can be very effective for younger children with depression. Consequences that take place over several days, like being grounded for a week, can backfire because children with depression may lose their motivation to earn their privileges back.

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    When Should You Call Your Doctor

    911, your provincial health information line, or other emergency services right away if:

    • Your child is thinking seriously of suicide or has recently tried suicide. Serious signs include these thoughts:
    • Has decided how to kill himself or herself, such as with a weapon or pills
    • Has set a time, place, and means to do it
    • Thinks there is no other way to solve the problem or end the pain
  • Your child feels he cannot stop from hurting himself or someone else.
    • Your child hears voices.
    • Your child has been thinking about death or suicide a lot but does not have a suicide plan.
    • Your child is worried a lot that the feelings of depression or thoughts of suicide are not going away.

    Seek care soon if:

    • Feeling guilty.
    • Feeling anxious or worried.
  • Your child has been treated for depression for more than 3 weeks but is not getting better.
  • Warning Signs Of Deepening Depression

    Parents should be on the lookout for signs of depression getting worse.Whether their child is at home or away at school or work, intervention may be necessary. Some of these warning signs include:

    • Dropping grades.;If your childs academic performance is declining, if they are skipping class and spending too much time alone in their room or if theyre coming home every weekend, these could be signals of worsening depression.
    • Using or increasing use of alcohol and/or drugs.;Young adults may use alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms when depression is getting worse.
    • Unhealthy eating or sleeping patterns, including weight gain or loss.;Both unhealthy eating habits and significant weight gain or loss are signs your young adult child is struggling.
    • An increase in physical complaints.;Increasing depression can often manifest itself in physical symptoms. If your child complains of chronic or worsening headaches, digestive issues, back aches, insomnia or feeling tired all the time, these are physical indications that her depression may be out of control.
    • Communicating hopelessness or being fixated on past failures.;If they constantly comment that they never do anything right, fail at everything or are increasingly sensitive, worsening depression could be the cause.2

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    Seven Steps For Parents Who Love An Adult Child With A Mental Illness

    “I beg you take courage, the brave soul can mend even disaster” ~ Catherine the Great

    Every month I receive emails from parents of adult children who have a serious mental illness. You tell me many things, but the one on which you all agree is how painful it is to see your son or daughter in anguish yet at the same time not accept help. They’re angry with you, blame you, yell at you, yet need your help desperately. You tell me how helpless, how lost and how hopeless you feel. It is a journey of great pain. But there is also great hope. I know. My parents were on this very same journey. For five years, I was in and out of the hospital because of psychotic episodes. I not only refused help but refused to accept the diagnosis of bipolar disorder with psychosis and generalized anxiety disorder.

    H.O.P.E.: Hang On Pain Ends ~ Unknown

    There are myriad reasons a person refuses treatment. They can include denial, anosognosia1 , shame, emotionally overwhelming, stigma, lack of access to good treatment, insufficient education about mental illness, fear of change, and lack of skills or support to move through change.

    But there are steps you as a parent or support person can take, at least initially, if you are facing this situation. The suggestions may help you feel a little less powerless, a little less alone, and a little more hopeful.

    But I also know this:

  • You can do it. But you cant do it alone.
  • Things will change.
  • Recovery is possible.
  • © Victoria Maxwell 2015


    What Is Depression

    About Kids Health: How To Help Children With Anxiety, Depression, and Anger Issues

    Depression is a mood disorder that can cause someone to feel sad, irritable or hopeless. It may affect your sleep, appetite or relationships with others. Depression can also cause you to lose interest in hobbies or activities you once enjoyed. In severe cases, depression can lead to thoughts of suicide.

    Depression is typically diagnosed if symptoms last two weeks or longer. It should only get evaluated, diagnosed and treated by a healthcare provider. Although depression is a serious medical condition, its usually treatable.

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    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.

    Seeking Professional Help And Treatment

  • 1Recognizing the signs of depression in a child. Depression comes with a host of typical signs in any person. These symptoms can often manifest themselves differently in children. Noticing if your child has any signs of depression can help you more readily identify a potential problem and seek professional help in a timely manner. Your child may be depressed if they have the following signs:XResearch source
  • Being sad, irritable, tearful, or cranky most of the day
  • Showing an inability to enjoy the things that they used to
  • Showing significant changes in weight, either up or down
  • Sleeping too little at night or too much during the day
  • Wanting to be alone
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