As a parent, you need to be prepared for dealing with problems—big and small. That includes taking care of your child’s mental health. It’s important to step up when things get serious.
Teen depression is not as rare as we’d like it to be. In fact, a 2016 study shows that 12.8% of US adolescents had at least one major depressive episode.
If you suspect your child might be experiencing depression, here are some steps you can take.
Learn How To Recognize Warning Signs
Teenagers go through various phases. There’s often a lot of mood swings and emotional episodes that comes with adolescence, and it can be hard to know when their behavior is a part of growing up and when it’s more serious. The first step towards helping your child battle depression is to learn how to spot it. Become familiar with the warning signs.
• Low self-esteem
• Lack of interest
• Academic success deterioration
• Drastic changes in eating habits (too little or too much)
• Feeling guilty and ashamed
• Lack of energy and motivation
• Fatigue and aches
• Thoughts of suicide and death
If your child is experiencing one or a combination of these symptoms, they may need professional help.
Get Them Professional Help
There are several ways you can provide professional help for your child:
• Talk to their pediatrician to seek further guidance
• Take them to see a mental health professional
• Contact a local mental health service
• Look online for resources such as the American Academy of
• Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The most important thing is that you don’t ignore the problem, but give your child the resources and support to fight it.
Give Your Child Emotional Support
Your child needs emotional support, and you need to be their number one person. Emotional support from the family is the building block of further social relationships. But, how can you manage to establish this kind of a firm base?
Spend quality time with your child
Encourage open and honest conversations. Listen to what your child has to say Acknowledge their inner struggles Showing support, without being pushy, can help you gain your child’s trust allowing them to talk about their problems and worries when they come up. This will help you be able to spot potential warning signs and react accordingly.
Encourage A Healthy Lifestyle
Physical and mental health are closely connected. And a healthy lifestyle can help manage symptoms of depression. Of course, you can’t order your child to lead a healthy life but you can provide healthy options and adopt a healthy lifestyle yourself. Being subtle in your suggestions and providing a good example can help encourage them to want a healthy life for themselves.
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN INSPIRE YOUR CHILD TO DO:
Exercise regularly: Physical activity can reduce the severity of depression and is known to be a great stress reliever. Encourage your child to play a sport or even just take regular walks with them. You can offer your company or suggest they find an exercise-buddy.
Eat healthy meals: Food affects our brain and can be vital for reducing stress and coping with depression. Provide healthy meals and promote eating quality food as much as possible. You can try filling the fridge with fruits, veggies and nuts, and remove all the sugary drinks and refined sugar.
Sleep regularly: If our body doesn’t get enough sleep, it feels threatened and tired. Consequentially, we start feeling exhausted, unmotivated and it can worsen depression. If you can, try motivating your child to sleep regularly and stick to a consistent bedtime.
Help Them Feel Connected
Depression can lead to isolation. Loneliness is a common experience with 80% of the population under 18 years of age. A lack of interaction and connection can worsen depression symptoms. Obviously, you can’t make your child have friends or force them to socialize. Some children find it hard to socially interact and make the first move with new friends. That’s why this subject matter is delicate and takes time. You can:
• Inspire your child to join a club at school or attend activities
• Give them ideas on attending various social events
• Encourage play dates and sleepovers at your house
• Organize family gatherings
Whatever makes your child stay in contact with people will help. Just remember, don’t leave loneliness unattended. It won’t go away on its own.
In order to help your child battle depression, you need to be alert and ready to react. Do your best to provide a supportive home environment and a great example; listen, talk and encourage.
By making sure you have a healthy and open relationship with your child, you’ll be able to help them overcome depression.