Depression can be a mysterious and terrifying condition for a parent to witness in their child so it’s important to learn How to Parent a Child That Has Severe Depression.
Mood swings, pervasive sadness, appetite changes, and behavioral problems, and even self-harm can all occur with depression.
Parenting in itself is no easy task, but parenting a child with severe depression can be even more challenging.
Here are some tips on how to parent when your child is experiencing depression.
Offer Support, Not Judgment
With so much misinformation, stigma, and general disregard for depression in general, it can be difficult to understand how the condition affects people.
When your child’s behavior begins to change, and they start talking about feeling sad often, it can be a first instinct to automatically make a judgment call.
Often times, those judgment calls can be detrimental to the situation, and create a wall between you and your child.
Offer support, not judgment.
Empathy is the road to understanding, and by offering an empathetic approach to your child’s depression, you’ll be much more likely to succeed in bridging the communication gap and perhaps even convincing them to seek professional help.
If you approach the situation with pre-conceived notions and misinformation, the only thing you’re going to do is alienate them further.
Educate yourself on depression and its symptoms.
Become familiar with the behavioral patterns associated with the condition, so you won’t be surprised when things like appetite changes or mood swings occur.
These things should still concern you as a parent, but once you’re made aware of them, they won’t catch you off guard and add further anxiety to the already tense situation.
Take Their Feelings Seriously
When a depressed person says they’re feeling a certain way, it’s important to take it seriously.
Don’t try to minimize their feelings or act like it’s just a passing wave of sadness.
Depression can drain the very will to live out of a person, and the pervasive sadness can affect all aspects of their life.
It’s not our place as parents to tell them their feelings are invalid; and, in fact, this can cause a further spiral and more erratic behavior.
When a child says things like “I hate myself”, it comes from a very real feeling of self-loathing caused by their condition.
It’s best to refrain from phrases like “it’ll get better” or “it could always be worse” as well, as these often have the opposite of the desired effect.
Telling a depressed child “it could always be worse” is about as effective as telling a paraplegic the same thing.
Avoid such statements and instead, choose an approach of understanding and empathy.
Always Take Self-Harm or Threats Seriously
Unfortunately, depression doesn’t always end with pervasive sadness.
Self-harm, threats of and attempts at suicide are common with severe depression.
All too often, these threats or actions are ignored by loved ones and friends, or viewed as “attention-seeking behaviors.”
You should always take any and all threats of self-harm, suicide, or harm to others seriously.
The worst thing you can do is ignore a threat, only to find out later that your child followed through with the action; resulting in the most horrific consequences.
With suicide rates at an all-time high and rising each year, it’s vital that parents begin to take mental health seriously.
We’re losing far too many young people to this horrible act, and depression is the leading cause of suicide the world over.
Keep an eye on your child’s behavior.
Once you’ve identified their normal “depressed behavior”, you’ll have a more general idea of what to expect.
If things suddenly shift for the worse (or the better), you’ll want to know as soon as possible.
Changes can occur suddenly with severe depression, and you’ll want to get your child the help they need immediately.
Be sure to let your child’s doctor or mental health professional know when behaviors suddenly shift.
The sudden behavioral changes could be due to medication, environmental factors, or any number of causes.
Identifying the cause of the sudden behavior will be the key to understanding and addressing it properly.
Seek Professional Help
If you haven’t already, you must seek professional help if your child is suffering from severe depression.
As much as we’d like to, as parents, we simply can’t do everything.
Mental health professionals are trained, educated, and better equipped to handle such conditions.
They can offer insight you would have never considered and a shoulder to lean on when things get tough.
In the event of a crisis, sometimes a mental health professional is the only person who can reach someone with severe depression.
While many parents may be hesitant to involve “strangers” in their child’s mental health, understand that no one can offer better advice, guidance, or insight into the situation than a trained mental health professional.
If you found this interesting read these articles; Tips for Improving Toddler Behavour, Kind or Mean? A Teaching Game , A thing or Two About Introvert Children and Socializing and Getting Away and Getting it Done When You Are a Mom.