As a parent, you want nothing but the best for your child, and it can be crushing to watch your child struggle with depression. Depression can impact every aspect of your child’s life (and thus your family life), from their mood and behavior to their academic performance and social interactions. It can be difficult to know how to help, and because depression can manifest in different ways, it can also be hard to identify. But you are not alone in this! Many families face mental health challenges and there are many tools and resources available to help you. Depression in children is a serious condition that may require professional treatment and you as a parent play a vital role in supporting your child’s recovery. The professional team at Psycamore Psychiatric Programs is here to share some tips on how to help a child with depression.
Tips for Supporting Your Child Through Depression
We have been helping families with mental health challenges for decades and over the years, many parents desperate to help their children have asked how do you respond to a child with depression? What is the number one cause of depression in kids? What can you give children for depression? How do I motivate my child with depression? We’re here to help answer some of those questions and provide some helpful hints on supporting your child during this difficult time.
Recognize the Symptoms of Child Depression
The first step in helping your child is to understand the signs and symptoms of depression in kids. Some of the warning signs of depression in children may include changes in mood, appetite, and sleep patterns. Many depressed children also withdraw from social events or hobbies they once loved and have an overall lethargy or lack of energy. Some children display bursts of anger or irritability, and/or hopelessness. Since these symptoms can be difficult to identify, seeking a professional mental health assessment may be the best place to start.
Create a Supportive Environment
Creating a safe, non-judgmental, empathic environment where your child feels safe expressing themselves is crucial. Have a conversation with your child where you listen carefully to what they have to say, expressing understanding and withholding judgment. You can ask open-ended questions to foster sharing, being careful to avoid asking a million questions or making it feel like an interrogation. This helps build trust and shows your child that they are valuable to you and loved unconditionally. Make it clear through open communication, positive time spent together, and a loving, safe home life that you’re there for whatever they are going through. The more comfortable your child is to open up, the more supportive and helpful you can be.
Encourage Positive Habits
Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle has been proven to reduce depression symptoms. Encourage your child to participate in activities that they enjoy, particularly physical activity. Anything from sports to hiking and yoga can lead to the release of endorphins, the “feel good” or “happy” hormones that help mood regulation. Enjoying the activities as a family or with a friend may help motivate your child to participate. Balanced and nutritious eating habits, as well as a regular sleep schedule, can also help work out of depression.
Seek Professional Support for Depression
There are many things you can do to provide support and encouragement to your child but connecting your child with a professional who deals with depression is always a good idea. Depression is a serious illness, and your child may need mental health support in the form of therapy, skill-building, and/or medications to manage their depression symptoms. At Psycamore Psychiatric Programs, we are here to support you and your child through this process. We offer comprehensive psychiatric care for children, adolescents, and young adults.
How Psycamore Can Help Treat Children with Depression
Psycamore understands that when a child is depressed, everyone in the family may need support. The individual child may require a mental health screening, individual therapy, family therapy, medical monitoring, and perhaps medication. Family members may require family therapy, family support, individual therapy, or parenting groups. Through our Child Program, we address all the mental health needs of everyone involved, working towards the successful management of depression symptoms. Together we can help your child manage their depression, leading to a fulfilling, healthy life for the entire family.