Teen Depression: The What’s, Why’s, and How’s

Teen Depression information

Every year, the number of teenagers suffering from mild to severe cases of depression continues to escalate. Statistics reveal that 20% of teenagers experience depression before adulthood, and only 30% of the total number of depressed teens get proper treatment. After a significant decline during the 1990s, many psychologists believe that the primary factors that lead to teen depression are pressures from school or home environment, lifestyle, as well as drugs and alcohol.

 

What Is Teen Depression?

It is crucial to understand that teen depression is more than the ordinary moodiness that your child manifests every now and then. Teen depression is considered a serious health condition that influences and impacts every aspect of his or her young life, such as:

  • personal life
  • school life
  • family life
  • social life
  • Work (if applicable)

Depression among teenagers is similar to adult depression as it involves emotional and mental disorders. However, the signs and symptoms in teenagers manifest differently due to the level of hormonal changes, physical body changes, and peer pressure.
Depressed people, including teens, tend to view the world and environment in a negative light. They often feel unloved, worthless, and highly critical of themselves. Most often, minor problems can overwhelm them. The condition will interfere with their regular routine, change their behavior, and lead to suicidal thoughts.
When depression sets in, teenagers tend to isolate themselves from friends, family, and society. It also results in chronic fatigue, insomnia, headaches, irritability, mood swings, and loss of appetite.
As a parent, it is essential to remember that teenage depression is not a growth phase. It is real and can be fatal in the absence of professional treatment, proper management, and support of loved ones. If not treated immediately, it can affect their adult lives.

 

What Causes Teen Depression?

While there is no single knowledge about the real reason why young people experience depression, multiple factors can trigger it. It can be caused by a mix of psychological, biological, and social factors that range from growth hormones to identity crisis.
Now, more than ever, young people are more pressured and stressed compared to previous generations. While modern technology brings convenience, it weakens the face-to-face interactions and activities of the family. It results in getting less physical exercise, less sunshine, and less social or community involvement.
Other factors contributing to chronic stress are an unhealthy diet, environmental toxins, a busy lifestyle, and too much exposure to electronic gadgets. A stressful home or neighborhood environment, violence, and poverty also lead to depressive behavior.

Emotionally unprepared

By nature, teens are not emotionally ready to handle the circumstances surrounding significant changes or challenges. When faced with emotionally draining situations like abuse, divorce of parents, or learning disabilities that affect school performance, a lot of teens tend to withdraw themselves or become rebellious. While a lot of teens can survive the ordeal of the situations, the effects impact their views in life.

Brain differences

Several studies show that the structural component of the adolescent brain differs from the brain of an adult. The level of neurotransmitters in the teens’ brains and the hormonal differences contribute to the development of depression. Neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine play a pivotal role in moods and behavior regulation. Reducing levels of neurotransmitters can trigger depressive behavior and can lead to depression.

Inherited traits

Depression can be hereditary because of its biological component. If your family has a history of depression, there is a great possibility that your child may suffer from this disorder when triggered by a situation or circumstance.

Early childhood trauma

Any type of traumatic life event can leave the child emotionally scarred, causing a long-lasting impression that leads to fear, insecurity, restlessness, and hopelessness. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuses are the most common reasons that develop teen depression.

Learned patterns of pessimistic views

Teens with parents who are negative thinkers are more likely to develop depression. The lack of positive role models to teach them to face problems squarely and think positively to overcome the situations make them incapable of handling them well.

 

Why Your Teenage Child Is at Risk

Certain factors contribute to teen depression. As a parent, you need to be more observant and knowledgeable about this medical disorder to ensure that your child is not at risk.
Here are some of the known facts and factors that contribute to the development of depression among teens:

  • Neglected and abused teens
  • More female teens suffer from depression than male teens
  • Teens who went through traumatic experiences or disruptions at home like family crisis, death, or divorce of parents
  • Adolescents with chronic physical condition or illnesses
  • Anxiety, ADHD, learning disorder, anxiety, and other mental health issues
  • Teens with substance abuse or mental problems that are not treated properly
  • Young people whose family has a history of mental illness or depression
  • Having difficulty in acknowledging their sexual orientation (whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual)
  • Lack of emotional and social support
  • Living in an unsafe, impoverished, or violent household/environment
  • Bullied by peers
  • Trouble in adjusting socially
  • Academic problems
  • Too much exposure on social media
  • Smartphone or game addiction to escape problems

 

How Would You Know if Your Teenage Child Is Experiencing Depression?

During the adolescence period, it is normal for teens to experience intermittent changes of moods and emotions. These happen because of hormonal changes, causing them to be sad or moody. The emotional episodes can last up to several days, affecting their normal sleep and eating routine, concentration, and productivity level.
While moodiness or sadness can be part of the early manifestation of teenage depression, knowing how to tell the difference is vital. Depression is far beyond the usual swings of emotions, blues, or acting out. It is a strong feeling of despair, melancholy, hopelessness, anger, or discouragement that can destroy the essence of the youngster’s personality. Rebelliousness and unhealthy attitudes can be indications of this disorder. Some ‘act out’ in their attempt to manage or cope with the pain or emptiness that they are experiencing.
As a parent, differentiating the normal growing pains from symptoms of depression can be difficult. During this journey of awareness and seeking enlightenment, your unconditional love, support, and guidance can help your teenage child get back their lives on track.
You need to start observing and taking notes of the following:

  • How long the behavior or emotion lasts? If your child’s sadness or overly-tired behavior lasts for over two weeks, it can be depression.
  • How strong are the emotions? It is crucial to observe if the overwhelming emotions come and go or present all the time for as long you or your child remember.
  • How big is the impact? You need to gauge the effects of the behavior or emotion on his/her physical health and wellbeing, relationships, school works, and daily activities.

Taking these factors into consideration will help you intervene and help your teenage child fight depression and prevent long-term consequences. Early intervention and treatment of the symptoms of teenage depression are important to help his/her handle challenges and problems.

 

What Are the Warning Signs and Symptoms of Teenage Depression?

Knowing how to spot the early signs of depression is important. Here are some of the most common physical, emotional, behavioral, and mental symptoms to watch out for:

Physical symptoms

  • low energy
  • lethargy
  • unmotivated
  • sluggishness or less active in physical activities
  • sudden change in weight and eating appetite
  • sleeping troubles which include oversleeping, insomnia, or staying in bed longer
  • unexplained or vague headaches or stomach aches
  • not caring about his/her physical appearance

Behavioral and emotional symptoms

  • disinterest in activities that he/she enjoyed doing in the past (hobbies, sports, parties)
  • irritability, moodiness, sadness, or tearful episodes while saying she/he feels numb or empty
  • persistent thinking of negative things, including suicidal thoughts, death, or hurting oneself, so watch out when your child start saying ‘I can’t do it anymore’ or ‘I want to die’
  • sudden decision to stop going to social events or seeing friends
  • angry outbursts that are uncalled for
  • low self-esteem
  • spending more time alone
  • running away from home
  • panic and anxiety
  • persistent restlessness that leads to acting out or fidgeting
  • self-mutilation
  • feeling guilty and worthless
  • sensitivity to criticism
  • nothing gives him/her true pleasure or fun
  • everything and anything can make him/her cry all of a sudden
  • exhibiting criminal behaviors like shoplifting or DUI
  • apathy
  • irresponsible behaviors
  • compulsive overeating or loss of interest in eating
  • promiscuous sexual engagement

Thinking (mental) symptoms

  • trouble in concentrating, focusing, or organizing
  • forgetfulness and trouble in remembering details or information
  • difficulty in making sound decisions
  • problems in school (not paying attention during classes, low grades, getting into trouble)
  • pessimistic views about life and the world

 

Why Is it Important to Recognize the Early Symptoms of Teenage Depression?

Often, teens do not realize that they are depressed. What they know is that self-criticism is a normal reaction when they see themselves as a loser, a quitter, a failure, or a bad student.
Their misbehavior can be seen as just having a bad attitude or a bad day. Sometimes, people around the teen think that she/he is not putting enough effort or not trying hard to succeed. Because of this impression, your child tends to keep his/her distance and stop communicating. The thought of ‘Why should I bother?’ leads to skipping classes or running away.
Underlying problems can intensify the teen’s inner pain or feeling of not being worthy. Those who are suffering from eating disorders, harming themselves, or going through extreme mood changes are attempting to cope with unresolved emotional problems that trigger their depression. The only way to treat the other issues is to treat the symptoms of teen depression.

 

How to Help Your Teenage Child Overcome Depression?

Teen depression does not go away on its own but requires the professional intervention of a health professional. It is vital to show your child that you are with him/her every step away. It is also best to seek guidance to help you deal with the problem effectively. Knowing what to do is essential to the resolution of teenage depression.
You may consider visiting the following people/institutions to enlighten you about mental health issues.

  • Your family doctor or GP
  • School counselor
  • Psychologist or psychiatrist
  • Local mental health services
  • Local community health centers

Armed with knowledge and awareness of teen depression, it is crucial to act immediately. Teen depression can be very damaging, so don’t wait until the symptoms are worse. Addressing the problem is the key to helping your child manage depression.
Your teenage child will not seek help by their own volition but needs your help to get treatment. However, it is not easy to talk about your concerns. Expect at some point that she/he will deny that something is wrong and refuse to get treatment. During this crucial moment, it is necessary to be firm about your decision and show some tough love.

  • Encourage your teen to talk about his/her feelings and thoughts or share what he/she is going through.
  • Avoid asking a lot of questions because some teens do not like being patronized or cornered.
  • Listen with empathy, resisting the urge to lecture, pass judgment, or criticize.
  • Make him/her feel that you are there to listen and support unconditionally.
  • When your child shuts you up or avoids discussion, do not give up easily. You need to understand that sharing emotions can be very tough and painful. It is not easy to express what he/he is feeling, so respect his/her comfort level but gently encourage the child to open up when he/she is ready.·
  • Acknowledge the validity of your child’s feelings, fears, and thoughts. Avoid downplaying the emotions, no matter how irrational or silly they are. Let your teenage child knows that you are taking his/her emotions seriously and giving the assurance and support he/she needs to overcome the condition.

 

How Will You Know if it Is Time to Seek Professional Help?

If you suspect that your child is suffering from teen depression, seeking the help of a therapist or health professional is the next step. It is also a must-do when the depressive behavior is getting worse.
Finding the right people and the right treatment is vital to the alleviation of symptoms of teenage depression. For proper diagnosis of the problem, a psychologist or psychiatrist will perform the evaluation, taking into account the family history, relationships with peers, and school performance. The evaluation may involve asking a series of questions about their moods, thoughts, actions, and behaviors.

Psychological and behavioral evaluation

To qualify for major depressive disorder (MDD), there should be at least two major displays of depressive episodes within two weeks. The episodes should include 5 of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Depressed mood most of the day
  • Psychomotor retardation or visible agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sleepiness or insomnia
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Diminished interest in a lot of activities
  • Reduced ability to concentrate or think
  • Recurring thoughts of suicide or death
  • Feelings of excessive guilt and worthlessness

Physical evaluation

A thorough medical checkup is also necessary to rule out underlying medical conditions or diseases that contribute to teen depression. Conditions like hypothyroidism can cause tiredness, low energy level, or depressed mood.

 

How to Treat Teen Depression?

After determining the severity of teen depression, the health expert will recommend treatment to help your child. It may involve psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of the two. For severe depression, it may require confinement in a psychiatric unit to manage the symptoms.

  • Talk therapy. Talk therapy is a type of intervention to overcome depression. It is conducted by a licensed therapist or counselor to help your teenage child change his/her thinking patterns, boost self-esteem and self-acceptance, build confidence to handle stressors and life’s struggles, and adopt more positive emotions. This is best for managing mild to moderate cases of teen depression.
  • Psychotherapy. It is a more advanced intervention to treat depression in youths. It may include the ‘three T’s for depression’- interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
  • Medications. Administering antidepressants to alleviate the symptoms can be helpful, but monitoring is important. Several studies link these types of medication to suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

 

How to Support Your Teenage Child Through Treatment?

Love and support are two factors that make a whole world of difference for teenagers during the low points of their lives. As a parent, it is essential to be your child’s rock and strength during the depression treatment. As much as possible, involve him/her in exploring the treatment options. Get your teen’s input about his/her preferred option and discuss the pros and cons before making a decision.
Be understanding and patient, remembering that your teenage child is not acting out on purpose but seeking help to overcome the negative emotions and thoughts helps you put everything in proper perspective.
Stay involved during the treatment by making sure that all instructions are followed, proper dosage of prescribed medication is given on schedule, and all therapy sessions are attended. Keep track of the changes in your child’s physical, emotional, social, and behavioral engagement.
Celebrate small victories and always be prepared for possible setbacks. The road to recovery can be difficult and bumpy, but going through the rough road is the only key to help your child overcome teenage depression with flying colors.

What Happens if You Stay After They’ve Cheated?

There are many different paths the betrayed partner can take.  In my experience, I see a few different outcomes for the betrayed spouse.  There are always outliers, but these are some common patterns.

First, occasionally is the spouse who stays in the marriage and also stays angry, resentful, and continues to punish their partner. This happens less often and the true outcome is two miserable people staying in a marriage out of fear or obligation.  These relationships can survive, but the betrayed partner may become highly controlling, short with their partner, and very unhappy.  

Or the betrayed partner will stay in the relationship but keep their emotional distance from their partner as a way to protect themselves. This is a relationship that looks great on the outside and even pretty good if you look a little closer. But there’s distance and a lack of true intimacy. With this path of recovery, I see two happy-ish people who are together in being lonely on the inside.  In these relationships, there is the potential for the betrayed partner to shift back into a connected relationship, but the willingness to open themselves back up the risk of trusting has to be present.  

These two outcomes happen less common and take intensive treatment to change.  The betrayed partner must have some willingness to accept this unwanted addition to their life story.  They don’t have to like it, but there must be an acknowledgment and acceptance that it is.  

And here’s the best, most common outcome I see. A couple will decide to be vulnerable, take risks, and stay in the discomfort that comes with recovery together. They realize the old marriage is gone and a new marriage has to be intentionally created. With these couples, I see the betrayed partner gradually become more themselves, more confident in their ability to survive very-bad-things, and proud of the work they’ve done to create a new relationship.

This partner uses the trauma of infidelity and changes the energy of the destruction to the energy of growth and creation. 

Oftentimes, the betrayed will exhibit many symptoms of PTSD after the discovery of betrayal.  They may experience:

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • No appetite

  • Nightmares

  • Clumsiness

  • Forgetfulness

  • Emotions that swing from one extreme to another

In the early stages of recovery, these are all normal.  

However, what I sometimes see in the end stages of recovery for the betrayed partner is:

  • A person more authentically engaged in their relationship

  • A person who knows they will survive if this happens again

  • A person who knows they have the strength to recover

  • A person who knows they have the drive to take charge of their life

These betrayed partners feel joy, contentment, and are glad they made the decision to attempt the repair.  

With therapy, talking with others, reading books, listening to podcasts, they learn to see the infidelity as something that belongs to their partner.  The cheat was something that did not have anything to do with them.  They see the infidelity not as demeaning or humiliating to them but saying speaking solely about their partner.  

Infidelity can demolish relationships and also be something that can be more than just survived.  For both partners.  

I don’t like to use ‘always’ or ‘never’ statements, but I will here.  No couple ever gets through recovery with complete grace.  There is always at least one moment that people look back on and think “yeah, I wish I had done that differently”.  Give yourself the gift of accepting your imperfections and accept, this process does not exist without a few moments you may wish you could take back.  

If you have this type of moment in your recovery, I find they become neutralized with apologies.  Owning your behavior and words, showing you are remorseful, and explaining how you’ll handle things going forward works to rebuild.  

If you’re on the fence about whether to stay or go, let’s talk. You don’t have to figure this out alone.

5 Signs Your Teenager is Asking for Help

The teenage years can perhaps be best described as a time of physical, emotional, and social tumult. Changes happen so rapidly in adolescence, that neither child nor parent really knows how to cope.

Teenagers often become more detached from their families during this time. In fact, parents become less important in their teenager’s eyes, as their life outside the family develops.

While this is a normal and healthy part of development, it is not an easy place for parents to be. They must be able to let go of their children while still recognizing the warning signs of adolescent depression. This can be difficult because some moodiness is normal during the teenage years.

Here are 5 signs that your teen may be suffering from atypical depression and asking for help.

1. Mood Swings

As I just mentioned, thanks to the cocktail of hormones suddenly surging through a teenager’s body, it is quite normal for them to have mood swings. So how can you tell what’s normal and what is a sign of mental illness? You have to trust your parental instincts here. You know your child better than anyone and should be able to recognize any significant shift in mood. Particularly look for mood shifts that seem to have no root cause.

2. A Change in Behavior

It is normal for a teenager to have a certain kind of behavioral change. Normal changes include challenging authority a bit more and claiming their independence. What’s not normal is for your child to suddenly start presenting as a different person to you. This can be a sign of depression.

3. Substance Abuse

Most teens experiment a bit with drugs and alcohol. But you should see red flags if your teenager is chronically abusing substances and coming home drunk or high on a fairly regular basis. It is especially important to act immediately if your family has a history of substance abuse.

4. Self-Harm

Those teens who are experiencing significant emotional turmoil may choose to take their emotions out on themselves by cutting, hitting, or hurting themselves in some other manner.

5. Talk of Suicide

While teenagers can definitely be prone to drama and overreacting to events, no parent should ever ignore talk of suicide. With teen suicide rates on the rise, particularly among girls, any mention or attempt should immediately result in professional help.

If you or someone you know has a teenager who is showing one or more of these signs and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. I would be happy to discuss how I might be able to help.

6 Signs Your Teen May Be Depressed

As teens struggle through the tough transition period of childhood into young adulthood, it can be difficult to decipher a teen’s behavior. Are their out-of-control emotions and conduct a result of the natural process of adolescence, or is it something more serious?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2016 approximately 3.1 million adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 experienced at least one episode of major depression. Depression is a serious mood disorder that, if left untreated, can cause serious short and long-term mental and even physical health problems. Moreover, depression carries a high risk of suicide.

Below are six signs you can look for to determine if your teen could be experiencing depression.

1. Excessive Crying and Sadness

While emotions tend to run high in most teenagers, excessive crying and sadness that persist for more than two weeks could be a sign of depression.

2. Loss of Interest and Motivation

When a teen is depressed, they may have trouble concentrating. This will cause them to lose motivation and interest in activities they once enjoyed.

3. Problems at School

The loss of concentration and motivation could also result in problems at school. Skipping school, plunging grades and a lack of participation in school and extracurricular activities are all signs that could be pointing to teen depression.

4. Changes in Weight or Eating Habits

Has your teen’s eating habits changed? Are they skipping meals or eating larger portions more frequently? Eating more or less, as well as dramatic changes in weight (either gained or lost) is one of the signs of depression.

5. Withdrawal

Depression causes people to isolate themselves. It’s not uncommon for a depressed teen to begin to withdraw from friends and family, choosing instead to spend time alone or locked in their room. If your teen is depressed, you may notice them begin to avoid spending time with friends and loved ones.

6. Suicidal Ideation

Thoughts or expressions of death or suicide should never be taken lightly. Threats or even jokes about suicide are a cry for help from your teen. If your teen expresses thoughts of suicide, react calmly, and then seek immediate help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

If you suspect that your teen is experiencing depression, it’s important that you seek professional help from an experienced mental health professional that specializes in treating teens. Call me today and let’s set up an appointment to talk.

Co-Parenting Strategies for Divorced Parents

Going through a divorce can bring the worst out of a couple that once promised each other forever. Your world might feel like it’s falling apart, and trying to co-parent when you’re struggling to simply keep going can be overwhelming. Learning to co-parent won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible. Use the five strategies below to start co-parenting with your ex.

1. Focus on the Children

By maintaining the focus on what’s best for your children, you can work toward providing as peaceful a home as possible for them. Providing them loving stability and structure will help ease them through this time of transition.

2. Communication is Essential

As you go through your divorce, your communication with your ex will inevitably suffer. It may be difficult to communicate with them; you may not want to talk to, or hear from, your ex. However, it’s important that communication regarding the children is maintained, and that your children are not used as messengers (i.e., “Tell your father you have a recital on Friday.”) Communicate directly with your spouse, finding creative ways to communicate to avoid conflict if necessary (text, email, letters, etc.)

3. Just the Facts

If you’re harboring resentment or have unfinished emotional business with your ex, the desire to express your emotional needs can feel overwhelming. Make a commitment to yourself that for the sake of your children’s well being, you’ll keep conversations focused on the issues.

4. Embrace Change

As you go through your divorce, there will be a great deal of change for yourself, your ex, and your children. By expecting and embracing change, you’ll reduce the stress you feel when the unexpected presents itself.

5. Prioritize Your Health

Maintaining your health is important not only for you but for your children as well. As they learn to cope with the changes in their family, having a healthy, happy, rested parent will help them adjust. Your children depend on you, and you owe it to them to give them your absolute best as a parent. Additionally, taking time to exercise and eat healthily will help you take the focus off of your divorce, and shift the focus back on to you moving forward, and making positive changes in your life.

As we go through a divorce, we mourn the relationship lost, and the dreams we had of the future. Although your ex is no longer your partner, your ex is still your child’s parent, and you will always be co-parents of the children you have together. Learning to get along and communicate will bring comfort to your children as they learn to cope with their parents’ divorce.

If you’re going through a divorce and struggling to co-parent effectively, call me today and let’s set up an appointment to talk.

Mass Shootings: How to Talk to Your Kids

After the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999, certainly, no one could imagine that over the next 20 years, 200 more school shootings would occur. In the first 79 days of 2018 alone, there were 12 school shootings, compared to 9 over the entire year of 2017. Sadly, school shootings are becoming an epidemic in the United States. As the nation struggles to find a solution to the violence, our kids’ safety and security hang in the balance.

How you talk to your kids about these tragedies varies by age and per individual child, but it’s important to take note that both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend avoiding the topic with children under 8. Kids under 8 have difficulty telling if the violence they’re watching at the movies or on TV is real or fantasy, which can cause great fear and anxiety. For this same reason, experts also recommend that children under 11 avoid watching the news entirely. At this young age, children’s brains have not yet developed enough to cope with violent tragedies, and exposure to these realities can be damaging psychologically.

For children over the age of 8, or if you believe your child might hear about the incident from others, first summarize the event in a single sentence. Keep in mind that your child will use your words to tell the story to themselves in their head, so choose your words carefully. What you say should also reflect your family’s beliefs and values. Speak in a calm and matter-of-fact tone of voice, as your emotional reaction will have a long-lasting impact on your child, more so than your words. Children will have a lot of questions so try to stay focused on positives, such as the people that helped and the support of the community.

For pre-teens and teens, start by asking what they know. Ask how they feel, and listen carefully to what they say. If they don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay too.

Your child may want to do something to help. Discuss what you can do together to help the victims’ families, the school, or the community. Volunteering can help us cope with tragedy as we feel the positive effects of contributing and doing good for people in need.

 

If you or your child are struggling to cope emotionally because of an incident of mass violence, a licensed mental health professional can help. Call my office today so we can schedule an appointment to talk.

How to Lovingly Parent a Depressed Child

Being a parent is the hardest job on the planet. But being a parent of a child with a mental illness can feel unbearable at times.

All parents want to do what’s right for their kids, but when your child is sick, either physically or mentally, the desire to “get it right” becomes even more intense.

If you are the parent of a child with depression, know there’s isn’t one “right way” to parent them. Having said that, here are some ways you can support and show you love your child on their way back toward the light.

Accept Your New Reality

For many parents, accepting that your child has a mental illness is extremely difficult. It is natural to want to deny the truth and pretend that everything is the way it was before the diagnosis. But invalidating reality will only make your child feel shame. Accepting the truth will help your family take the necessary steps to get the right help.

Communicate Openly

Your child needs you now more than ever. They need to feel that they can talk to you when their world feels dark. Sit your child down and tell them they can come to you at any time for any reason. Let them know you could never be angry at them for how they feel. When they are ready to talk, listen closely and with an open mind and heart.

Help Their Body

It’s a fact that an unhealthy body affects the mind, especially with a mental illness in play. Help your child’s recovery by encouraging healthy eating habits. Limit sugar, bad fats, and caffeine intake. Make sure they get plenty of exercise. Invite them to go for a hike or bike ride with you. And finally, help them get enough sleep each night by setting firm bedtimes.

Talk to Them About Suicide

It’s a conversation no parent ever imagines they’ll have to have. But for the parent of a depressed child, the risk of suicide is a sad reality. Start the conversation with your child. Ask if they’ve ever thought about suicide. Asking these questions in an objective way allows your child to speak candidly with you and share their true thoughts and feelings with you.

And understand that there is no danger of a person planting a thought of suicide in someone else’s mind if it’s not already there.

Get Help

Though you can be a big support in your child’s life, you’ll need the help and guidance of a trained mental health therapist. Talk to your pediatrician for a referral. You can also get a referral from local support groups and friends and family.

If you or a loved one has a child suffering from depression, you are not alone. Please contact me to discuss treatment options.