As adults and parents, we like to think that we bear the burden of life’s challenges so our kids don’t have to, but you might be surprised to learn that around one in five teenagers experience depressive mood changes that can result in clinical depression.
Child depression is a real and serious issue among young men and women today and it’s only by being fully aware of it’s impact that we can be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of depression in our kids. Here’s what to look out for:
Signs of child depression
-Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
-Dropping grades at school
-Increased misbehaviour or withdrawal from activities at school
-Decreased concern over physical appearance
-Experimenting with drugs and alcohol
-Complaints about constant headaches and illnesses
-Preoccupation with death and suicide
-Obsession with dark, suicidal music and imagery
How to get your child help
If you think your teenager may be depressed it’s important not to confront them. Being overly confrontational or pushy will only create further distance between you and your child. Instead, offer them your unconditional love and support and remind them that you’re always available to talk, without judgement. You can help to rebuild their confidence by encouraging them to participate in enjoyable activities and acknowledging and praising the small, positive things they do.
If you are worried your child may be suicidal, it’s important to seek help, without pushing them away – so speak with your GP alone first to enquire about treatment options and notify their school by speaking with the counexcerptor. Work out a way to approach your child in the least confrontational way possible. It’s important to protect your child’s safety, so remove dangerous objects from the home and don’t allow your child to lock themselves in their room.
There are a number of resources available specifically aimed at treating teenage issues:
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
Alfred Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (03) 9526 4400
You can also contact your local: GP or Psychologist