What can I do if my child is depressed?
Real Mom Problem
“My son was so upset today. He was crying saying things like he has no purpose, he's useless, he's fat, he's stupid, etc. We have had days like this before but today was way more extreme. He said several times that he wished he were dead. My heart is breaking.”
- 1. Talk to your child and try to get details on how he's feeling and why
- 2. Remind your child of how much you love and support her no matter what
- 3. Take any threats of self-harm or suicide seriously
- 4. Try outlets for easing pain other than talking such as journaling or exercise
- 5. Talk to your child's teacher, doctor, and/or a therapist about your concerns
Real Mom Solutions
It's so hard to see your child sad, but there are things you can do to help ease their pain. See what these moms suggest.
Find the Cause & Talk to a Pro
If a therapist is not getting through to your daughter, you may need to try a new one. It took me four years to find my daughter a therapist she responds to. It would have taken much less had I been more aggressive about changing therapists. I know they say that it takes time to get comfortable enough to open up to a therapist, but you can only give it so much time. My daughter ended up needing a therapist who would push her to talk. My daughter has always been way too good at dancing around the hard subjects. If she's not talking by the fifth session, then it's time to switch. That's what I'd do, even though it is against what the therapists recommend.
Have you talked to your son to see if he will tell you where he is coming up with the things that he is saying about himself? Stay positive with him. Always compliment him: his look, behavior, and things that he does. Positive brings on more positive and negative brings on more negative. Try going to a teacher, a counselor, or a church affiliate that you can turn to for advice too.
Take your daughter to her regular doctor and tell him or her what is going on. The doctor may give her an antidepressant. My son is bipolar with ADHD and is going into puberty as well. A few weeks ago she added a prescription for an antidepressant and his depression has totally disappeared. Your doctor might not prescribe antidepressants and will recommend you take your daughter to a psychiatrist. There are so many antidepressants. You may not want her on them, but if she is depressed, having walked that road myself throughout the years, I am so thankful now that my son and I are no longer depressed and more positive about life, thriving in his school, and making new friends.
Give your son lots of extra love and encouragement if he's depressed. Is he being bullied or teased by kids at school? He may be reluctant to "tell on" other kids who are bothering him, so I would try to look into it. I have been dealing with a bullying issue with my 10-year-old daughter at her school. I talked to some of her teachers about it and we figured out what was going on with my daughter and some kids at recess. The bullying has been dealt with and my daughter is no longer acting depressed or saying bad things about herself. Not saying this is what is going on with your child, but you never know.
If your son is depressed you might want to consider having him talk to a professional. Not so that he can be medicated, but so he can talk to someone who is removed enough from the situation to not let emotion get in the way. Also while we all love our kids and tell them how great they are I think sometimes kids feel like it is something parents have to say, so talking to someone that he feels isn't biased might help him really get his feelings out and see the things he thinks about himself are not at all true. Also, I would check to see if there is something going on with the kids at school that has him down on himself.
Find Creative Ways to Decrease Pain
Our daughter has a journal and we're making a worry box. The worry box is for her to write down any worry she may have at any time during the day. She is supposed to write it down as soon as she thinks it and deposit it in the box. Once she's put it in there, she can't think about it anymore. Then at night, we will spend X amount of time discussing the things she's put in there and how we can solve each individual problem. We will not exceed our allotted time of worry talk, and hopefully we can help ease her mind some.
Consider getting your daughter a journal or a diary. That way she has an outlet to her emotions instead of yelling when she doesn't feel up to talking.
Have your son try a sport where he can channel his anger and frustration such as karate or other martial arts. Find something he is good at and don't allow him to stick to video games.
I suggest trying to find an interest for your son outside of school. Look at the programs at your local recreation center and sign him up for classes in drawing, karate, swimming -- something! Scouts, sports, and classes at the YMCA are other things to look into also. When he finds an interest, then hopefully he'll find a friend or two in that same class that share his interest also.
For sadness, try exercise, meditation, journaling -- anything to help get the sadness out. And lots of hugs!
Take ANY Threat of Suicide Seriously
A threat of suicide should ALWAYS be taken seriously.
My son says he's going to kill himself and wishes he were dead. We are in counseling. The counselor doesn't think he really means it. She thinks he has anxiety and that's his way of expressing it in a very dramatic way. But still, when a child says that, it needs to be taken seriously.