Helping a Child with Depression

If you have a child with depression, you should give them full attention and seek professional help as soon as possible to treat the illness.
Helping a Child with Depression

Last update: 26 July, 2022

All parents want their children to be happy and we feel worried when we observe some kind of discomfort in them. There can be many reasons that lead them to be sad or down. Here, we’re going to explain what you can do to help a child with depression.

This mental disorder occurs more often than we imagine, in adults, adolescents, and children, and it affects the natural functioning of people. It’s important that we know how to identify the signs that indicate that our child is suffering from depression in order to provide the best possible help. Keep reading.

What symptoms can we observe in our child with depression?

We can suspect that our child has depression when we observe certain behaviors in them. Here are some of them:

  • Low mood for much of the day: They may be sad, almost tearful, or in a bad mood.
  • Low energy and difficulty in doing any task, no matter how simple.
  • Low self-esteem, feeling of worthlessness.
  • Loss of interest in things they used to like.
  • Sleep problems, either sleeping too much during the day or too little at night.
  • Preference for solitude, not wanting to be with family and friends.
  • Changes in weight and eating habits (may eat too little or too much).
  • Learning difficulties affecting school performance.
  • Physical pain or symptoms without a medical cause.
  • Lack of interest or concern for the future.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

Keep in mind that some of these symptoms can occur in children or adolescents who don’t have depression and are simply going through a bad time. What makes us suspect that our child suffers from depression is the fact that all these symptoms appear together and every day.

A teen boy wearing a hoodie and looking sad.
Depression is more than a down mood. It’s a condition that affects the quality of life of the sufferer and becomes chronic.

What should we do if we suspect that our child has depression?

If you suspect that you have a child with depression, the first thing you should do is talk to them and listen to them. Talking about their feelings and the things that may be happening to them or making them feel sad will serve as a starting point to address the problem.

Another thing to do is to talk to the child’s primary care physician and bring them up to speed on the situation. You should explain the symptoms you observe so that they can determine if there may be a medical cause for your child’s mood and behavior. In addition, they may suggest starting therapy or prescribe medication to alleviate the depression.

It’s very important to do a thorough evaluation of your child in order to detect depression as soon as possible and begin treatment. If there’s been any suicidal ideation or attempts, this condition should be considered an emergency and communicated to the doctor so that the child can begin treatment immediately.

What can you do to help your child with depression?

To help our child with depression, the first thing you need to do is to intervene and be supportive. Being sympathetic and talking to them to find out what’s going on and if there’s a specific reason behind it is a key step.

Let’s then look at some issues that we can address with our depressed child:

  • Make sure that the sadness doesn’t stem from bullying. You need to speak with the young person about the matter and give them space and time so that they manifest their feelings.
  • Keep in mind that irritability and lack of enthusiasm for daily activities can occur in the context of depression and don’t always respond to laziness.
  • Communicate to the doctor if there’s a family history of depression.
  • Be close, affectionate, and loving to your child, and give them all the love you have for them.
  • Talking and listening to your child will help them express their feelings.
  • Sign them up for activities that they enjoy. It can be sports, art, painting, or dancing, among others.
  • If your youngster thinks they can’t do something, you can help them make a list of small tasks that will lead them to their final goal. This will help them to see each activity as an achievement.
  • Check that they’re maintaining treatment and taking medication as prescribed.
  • If they must attend therapy, make sure they do so and accompany them.
  • Try to reduce their stress as much as possible.
  • Pay attention to any warning signs that suggest suicidal or death-related thoughts.
  • Always have emergency phone numbers available, such as your therapist, psychiatrist, or doctor, in case of a crisis or worsening mental health condition.
A depressed teen talking to a psychologist.
Keep in mind that the results of therapy aren’t immediate, but take a few weeks to show improvement.

Conclusion regarding what you can do if you have a child with depression…

If you have a child with depression or suspect that they may suffer from it, it’s important that you consult a doctor to find a solution as soon as possible. Depression is a complex illness, which affects a person’s well-being and can have serious consequences. Therefore, here we’ve included a series of tips to give you some ideas on how to help them.

Remember how important it is to establish a fluid communication link with your child in order to produce an environment of trust. Stay close to tell them what’s happening to them or if they have a problem that they can’t solve by themselves.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.