by Dylan Buckley
According to a study conducted by Duke University on bullying and its effects on mental health, young children and adolescents are at a high risk of developing depression later in life. In order to tackle this problem, we first need to understand what it is and how to recognize it.
What is Depression?
Depression is a mental illness characterized by feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, fatigue, sadness or emptiness, and a lack of excitement towards activities one would normally enjoy.
Other symptoms include:
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Suicidal ideation
- Inability to think clearly
- Gaining or losing weight
- Physical pains, such as stomachaches and headaches
How do I know if my child is experiencing depression?
The only way to be certain that your child is suffering from depression is for him/her to be diagnosed by a mental health professional. If your child is experiencing the symptoms above for extended periods of time, weeks or more, visit your doctor and have he/she refer you to someone who can diagnose them and help them through the recovery process.
What actions do I take to overcome it?
Besides the obvious course of action to take, seeking out therapy and taking medication, there are several things that you can do at home to help ease your child’s depression and prevent future episodes.
Prepare Healthy Foods
Have you ever heard the adage, “You are what you eat”? Take it seriously when you find your child dealing with depression. What they eat not only affects their body but their mood as well.
Get Your Child Moving
When your child is suffering from depression, getting them up and moving is vital. While they may not feel like getting out of bed, you need to get them to do it. Exercise helps produce endorphins and gives your child that mood boost that they desperately need during a depressive episode. A short walk in the bright sun helps out immensely.
Set Goals for Them
Setting small goals that are easily achievable will help your child rebuild their self-esteem. Start slowly at first and focus on simple things like making the bed, doing chores, and completing homework. Once they see that they are capable of doing the little things, their confidence will grow and daily life will become easier for them.
Make Sure They Maintain Relationships
Human interaction is a necessary part of life. Those suffering from depression tend to isolate, which in turn makes them feel worse. Make sure your child continues to socialize and spends time with their friends. The less time they spend alone, the better.
Find a Hobby for Them
Depression takes away the enjoyment of everything. However, help your child stick to doing whatever he/she likes to do. It can help bring about a feeling of normalcy and keep their mind off of their depression.
Most importantly, if your child begins experiencing worsening thoughts of suicide or you feel he/she is in immediate danger, please consult a mental health professional or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.