Adolescent Depression; How to Help Your Child
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Did you know that depression is the most common mood disorder all over the world? More than 10% of the world’s population is dealing with various severities of depression.
What you might not know is that your child can go through this pain as well. Not a lot of us realize that depression affects teenagers more than it affects adults. It is the leading cause of suicide among teens. It is extremely important to understand the signs and symptoms of depression to recognize if your child is going through it.
The good news is that you can help your child overcome it, but you should get them help as soon as you are aware of it. Depression is different than moodiness and hormonal changes in teenagers.
It can be due to a lot of reasons such as bullying in school, not getting good grades, family problems, and even substance abuse. If you see that your child has a persistently negative mood such as frequent crying or a feeling of an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, it is a clear sign of depression.
It can also lead to low concentration in school and problems with teachers and other students. They might exhibit signs of losing interest in activities that they used to love. Their appetite and sleep might be affected by it as well. Here are some ways to help your child get through this.
Focus on listening to them instead of lecturing
You might think that you know what is best for your child and that they should listen to you. But you should remember that a sign of good and open communication is listening.
You should listen to your child when they talk to you about their problems, no matter how petty or small they may seem to you. If your child is communicating with you, it is a good thing, so do not let that go away. Let them know that you are fully in their support and that they can always come and talk to you.
Always acknowledge their feelings
A lot of teens who go through depression feel like no one understands them or how they feel. It is very important to show them that they are in a safe and secure environment and that their feelings are seen and validated.
They may have a hard time expressing their feelings to you, so be patient with them. Take care of their comfort level while they talk to you. Do not try to explain to them that ‘things are not that bad because that makes them feel like their feelings aren’t understood.
Make time for your child
Making time for your child does not mean just sitting with them and watching a movie. You should take out some time in the day where you do not use your electronics and just sit with them face to face to talk about how their day went.
Do not try to multi-task during this time as it would make things difficult for the child and they might not be able to talk to you. Just connecting with your child in person can make a lot of difference in their lives. Do not be afraid to talk about their depression, it will open the lines of communication and might just make things better.
Help them avoid social isolation
People who face depression often tend to bury themselves within and reduce or completely stop socializing with their peers. It is important to help your child get out of the house.
Encourage them to leave the house and to go meet their friends. You can even call their friends home and make a whole day out of it. Try to engage in family activities and get-togethers that can help them get out of the house. This will give them plenty of opportunities to connect with someone their age.
Try natural treatments
Before you try heavy medications, it is very important to try some natural treatments. Many studies have shown that people who are depressed lack Vitamin B12 in their bodies. It alters the brain chemistry and can lead to a lack of serotonin. There are quite a few natural supplements for depression that you can look into.
It is also important to get them onto a healthy and balanced diet so that they get proper nutrition. Make sure that they get enough sleep since insomnia or lack of sleep can make depression worse.
Help them get some exercise
A ton of studies show how exercise can really help fight depression. Moving your body can help release endorphins, also known as happy hormones. Just 20 minutes of exercise a day can reduce the level of cortisol in the body.
They can also try to get some exercise in the fresh air and be around nature, which has also proven quite helpful with depression. Even activities such as dancing, playing sports, or even skating are beneficial as long as they are moving their bodies.
Try to involve them in their treatment options
When you choose to take your child to a therapist, do not try to make decisions for them. It is important for them to feel that they have autonomy in their treatment options. Ask them what kind of treatment they would like, and let them choose for themselves instead of pushing them towards one option.
If your child feels that medication is needed, let them talk to a psychiatrist and see if it is a good option for them. If they need someone to talk to, take them to a psychologist who can help them become aware of their feelings and emotions.
Medications have certain risks
Although it might seem that nothing can get better without medication, it is important to understand that medication also has some side effects that can be harmful to your child. Antidepressants such as Benzodiazepines are addictive which is why it is important to not let your child take them for longer than two weeks at a stretch.
It is important for you to help your child through this difficult stage in their lives. Be there to support them and make them feel validated and loved.
*This article is based on personal suggestions and/or experiences and is for informational purposes only. This should not be used as professional advice. Please consult a professional where applicable.