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4 min read

How To Help If Your Child Is Depressed: A Guide for Brooklyn Parents

Key Takeaways:

  • Childhood depression can hinder development and cause distress for your child
  • There are steps parents can take to reduce the chances of depression in their children caused by external factors.
  • If your child does develop depression, communication, support, and therapy may be able to help.

Childhood and, by extension, parenthood are defined by change.

Children are constantly learning and growing - each day they absorb new information and map out a view of the world characterized by innumerable factors like genetics, family, school, friends, and, increasingly, the internet.

Parenthood changes because your child is always changing.

And one of the most worrying and painful changes many parents go through occurs when their child begins to show signs of depression.

Childhood depression is becoming worryingly more common: about 4.4% of children have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives. The causes of this are manifold, but some of the most commonly cited reasons are changes in physical health trends, the increasing difficulty of schoolwork, and access to harmful content.

Luckily, there are steps parents can take to reduce their child's chance of developing depression as a result of these environmental factors.

Let's learn about the warning signs of depression in children, as well as what parents can do to help prevent it and reduce distress after a diagnosis.

Childhood Depression Resources on This Page:

Signs Your Child May Be Depressed

How To Reduce the Chances of Depression in Your Child

How Parents Can Help Their Children Through Depression

Child Therapy for Depression in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

Signs Your Child May Be Depressed

Childhood depression, like adult depression, manifests in a number of different ways.

Your child may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms (though, we should note, this list is not all-inclusive; your child can be depressed even if they don't exhibit any of these):

  • Becoming reclusive
  • Change in diet; under- or overeating
  • Significant and otherwise unexplained drop in grades
  • Severe reduction or elimination of interest in previous interests, which can't be explained by normal development
  • Consistent fatigue
  • Changes in sleep patterns; under- or oversleeping
  • Consistent hopelessness or empty feelings
  • Dramatic increase in the frequency or severity of crying

Of course, it is also possible that children with the proper language skills will also be able to tell you they are feeling depressed - something you should immediately bring to the attention of a mental health professional.

How To Reduce the Chances of Depression in Your Child

Before we dive into tips for avoiding depression in children, we should make one thing very clear: It's not always possible to prevent depression. In fact, a parent can do everything exactly right, and still come to learn their child is depressed.

Sometimes, for reasons scientists are still trying to figure out, depression just happens. Brain chemistry and genetics account for millions of cases of depression without the discernible contribution of external factors.

You can, however, at least reduce the number of external factors that may contribute to potential childhood depression by following a few key steps.

Vigilance

First and foremost, staying aware of both your child's behavior and the current state of research on childhood depression means you will be well-prepared for when any possible warning signs come up.

For example, if your child has historically shown great interest in geography, but then their grade in geography class suddenly drops, you may want to ask them if they are still interested in geography like they once were.

If they say no - that they just don't really like it anymore - that doesn't necessarily mean they absolutely have depression. But your job as a parent is not to diagnose; it's to watch for warning signs and bring them to the attention of a mental health professional.

Communication

Before any warning signs even arise, you can also take steps to help reduce the chances of depression in your child or teenager.

Open communication between a parent and a child is essential for so many parts of a child's development. Communication can prevent so many conflicts and issues from ever even happening that it's considered by therapists to be the single most important soft skill for children - and parents - to learn.

If you open a line of honest communication, your child will be more likely to let you know if anything is bothering them at school or at home. They will be more likely to let you into anything they are feeling insecure about or, crucially, anything stupid their friends are starting to get into.

Make sure your child knows that they can always come to you about anything, and that you promise to be rational and supportive even if they misbehave (note that this does not mean they'll never get in trouble - just that if they do, your goal will ultimately be to help them).

It helps to lead by example with communication. If you communicate with your child about your own insecurities, social concerns, work problems, or even your own depression (if applicable) (and assuming your child is old enough to understand), they will be far more likely to speak up with you if the time comes. Just be sure not to become an emotional burden on your child; they shouldn't have to feel like the only reason you talk to them is to complain. That's what a therapist is for!

Preventative Therapy

One of the most proliferate and damaging myths in mental health is that something has to go wrong for someone to go to therapy.

In reality, you or your child can go to therapy for any reason at all - or even for no reason!

Enrolling your child in therapy before any warning signs of depression appear is a great way to equip your child with two things necessary for solid mental health:

  • Emotional self-awareness and resilience.
  • A trusted therapist ready to go to work in the event depression does develop.

Book a Therapy Session in NYC Today

How Parents Can Help Their Children Through Depression

If your child is diagnosed with depression, understand that there is hope.

Through a combination of parental support, communication, and therapy, your child stands a good chance of reducing their distress and even possibly having their depression nearly or totally eliminated over time.

After diagnosis, be sure to speak with your child's therapist often. They will certainly have tips and advice for addressing and accommodating depression in the home.

It may also be a good idea to contact the school administration to see if they can offer (or are required to offer by law) any accommodations in the academic arena.

Child Therapy for Depression in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

If you suspect your child may have depression, or if they have already been diagnosed, our team of child psychologists and therapists in Brooklyn is here to help.

Exclusively composed of doctoral-level therapists, our team is unparalleled in experience and expertise. Give us a call, and our patient coordinator will help you find the right therapist for your child.

Book a Therapy Session in NYC Today

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