Has your child been showing signs of the following symptoms?
Consistently low or sad mood
Random crying spells or outbursts
Isolating themselves from family or friends
Making comments about death, self harm, or suicide
Lack of motivation in school or sports
Stopping activities they used to enjoy
Increased anger or irritability
Increase or decrease in appetite
Increase or decrease in sleep
Low self esteem or negative self talk
Sudden use of drugs/alcohol
Your child does not have to exhibit the entire list above to be considered clinically depressed. It is common for these symptoms to show up at different times or in different amounts. It is also common for children who are experiencing puberty to have mood swings or periods of a “down” mood, however, it is important to take note of the severity and longevity of these symptoms. If your child is experiencing several of the above symptoms for long periods of time, causing interference with daily responsibilities, relationships, and academic performance, then it is time to consider treatment for depression.
It is also important to note that your child is more likely to have depression if there is a family history of depression. If your child exhibits depression symptoms for at least two weeks at a time, then speaking with a therapist or psychiatrist is a reasonable next step.
What caused my child’s depression?
As a parent or guardian, it can be scary to hear that your child might be struggling with depression or other mental health diagnosis. You might think that this depression came on suddenly or worry that it was sparked by a life event. If your child has been through a sudden life change at the time of the presentation of depression symptoms, it is important to discuss this with their therapist before concluding that your child needs treatment for depression.
If your child has not experienced a major life change causing depression symptoms, other causes include family history of depression, physical health, or chemical imbalance.
Will my child have to be medicated?
It is common for parents to be hesitant to have their child treated for depression because of the possibility of antidepressants. As therapists, our goal is to help your child in the way that is most beneficial for them. This means sometimes talk therapy is enough, while others need a combination of therapy and medication to get to a healthy management of depression symptoms. Medication or speaking with a psychiatrist is usually recommended if your child has been in therapy for a significant time and has not shown improvement.
Before attempting to add in medication, your child’s therapist will work with them to process difficult emotions, identify unhealthy coping mechanisms, and learn healthy coping strategies to minimize the impact of depression symptoms.