How Do I Know if Child or Teen is Depressed?
A depressed child or teen often experiences myriad of symptoms that impair psychological functioning. Feelings of irritability, guilt, sadness, and loss of interest in friends or activities may be some of the persistent symptoms your child or teen will face. They may turn from the world as the pain they are feeling is too overwhelming to fake a happy disposition. Feelings of psychological pain may turn to numbness or hopelessness. Often when depression occurs, lines of communication between parents and their child are cut off. This leaves parents feeling worried, as they don’t understand why their once seemingly content and normally functioning child now appears agitated and isolated. For your child or teen, it may feel as though a dark cloud is following them around.
It is more common for parents to notice the obvious symptoms of depression when their child enters the teen years, with early warning signs often going unnoticed for years. Recent research has indicated that clinical depression can occur in children as young as three years of age, with the most common symptom of depression in young children being intense irritability. Although difficult to diagnosis at a young age, irritability combined with social withdrawal, an inability to feel joy, and excessive guilt, might be an indication that a child needs psychological support. Like many medical conditions, depression is best treated at the earliest onset of symptoms.
What to do if my Child or Teen is Depressed?
The first thing to try is talking to your son or daughter with empathetic understanding. Show genuine concern for their health to determine if you're able to get a sense for how serious their depression is. Depressive symptoms can range from mild to severe. Getting information from a teen or adolescence is not always easy, as they may not be ready to talk. They also may not be able to open up to you as they may not even understand their own thoughts or feelings. Seeking professional help can help your teen understand how they are feeling and help them develop coping strategies. If you have the sense or any indications that their depression is severe, or that they are having thoughts of suicide, seek immediate help.
If your child is in immediate danger call 911 or call Canada's Suicide Prevention and Support Line at 1-833-456-4566 to talk or text them at 45645.
If you feel that your son or daughter is in a safe place and not in a place where they are considering self-harm, try to offer an open non-judgmental listening stance and offer various supports as outlined below. Kids Help Phone has a 24/7 line that has a trained ear on the other end. They can be reached at 1-800-668-6868 they can also be reached by texting the word CONNECT to 686868