My Child is Depressed, Now What?
I’ll never forget the look on Keith’s (name changed) dad’s face at the hospital. It was an unbelievable combination of fear, sadness, relief, stunned confusion, severity, and gratitude. His son had unsuccessfully attempted to take his own life. “I knew things weren’t easy for him, but I just never wanted to believe my son would ever do anything like this.” I befriended Keith while working for an organization that reaches out to teenagers. He struggled socially when I met him but still had an upbeat disposition; as the years passed by that changed to increasing darkness, irritability, and depression. Thankfully, Keith and his family got help, and he is currently doing well.
Our kids experience all sorts of emotions in childhood, particularly in the tween and teen years. There are going to be days when they are down, sad, or act out. It’s natural. However, when you start seeing your child consistently being disruptive, experiencing prolonged sadness (two weeks or longer) and/or chronic pain, withdrawing, or no longer desiring to do the things that used to bring enjoyment, there may be something deeper going on. Have you watched the smile disappear from your child’s face and come to the conclusion, “My child is depressed”? This is what you need to do.
You can’t assume this will go away on its own or work itself out. Be proactive. Disregarding symptoms of depression is like sweeping a dead animal under the rug. [Tweet This] It will continue to linger or perhaps spiral to an even worse place. You need to deal with it. In a situation like this, it is better to overreact than underreact.
Talk to Them
Let them know you are there for them. Ask questions — mainly how they feel about circumstances, friendships, and the things that are hard. Get down to their eye level. Listen a lot before injecting an opinion or trying to make everything alright. Make sure their feelings are validated. Give them plenty of empathy and understanding. It would be a good idea to put your hand on their back to affirm that they are not alone.
Take Them To The Doctor
There could be something physically wrong. Taking them in for a routine physical is a good way to eliminate things. Speaking to a medical doctor will give you direction, options, and peace of mind.
These are serious issues and you need the help of professionals. Have your child meet with a counselor or therapist who is able to do an evaluation. Someone trained on these issues will be able to spot specific points of concern and how to move towards healing. If necessary, have your child meet with them regularly. Be sure to ask plenty of questions regarding things you can do at home to continue the progression to health.
Pay attention closely to their words and demeanor. Look out for words that convey hopelessness and self degradation. Get them talking as much as possible. They could be warning signs that they are in dangerous waters. If they give any reference to suicide, dying, or a desire to disappear, you need to act right away. Don’t leave them alone and seek help immediately.
© 2014 All Pro Dad. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.
Sound Off: Have you ever had a kid dealing with depression?