4 Things To Do If You Think Your Child Is Depressed

Depression is a serious medical condition that can affect people in all stages of life. Depression doesn't discriminate based on age, gender, or socioeconomic status. However, some people may not realize that even children can be depressed. Here are four things you should do if you think your child may be suffering from depression:

1. Educate yourself about common symptoms.

Some of the symptoms of depression may go unnoticed in children when it's easy to misinterpret them as fussiness or ordinary childhood behavior. Kids often don't have the vocabulary or knowledge to explain what's wrong, so you will have to be vigilant and notice the signs of depression yourself. If your child is depressed, they may suddenly seem uninterested in games and activities they used to enjoy. They may suddenly gain or lose weight inexplicably, and you may notice them starting to sleep a lot more.

2. Talk to your child's physician.

Ideally, your child has a pediatrician with whom you have a good relationship. Make an appointment to allow your child to be evaluated by their doctor. You may be asked to give an account of the symptoms you've noticed, so be prepared to talk with your child's doctor. Depression is typically diagnosed through self-reported symptoms since there is no official test for this mental illness.

3. Follow your doctor's treatment plan.

Psychotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for depression, and it's usually the one doctors suggest first. A children's therapist specializes in treating kids, which is important since children's cognition differs from that of adults. Your child's therapist will allow them to express their feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Some children's therapy involves the use of toys to help your child feel more comfortable discussing their issues with a therapist. Play therapy can allow your child to act out their feelings using figurines or stuffed animals as stand-ins for themselves and others.

4. Keep an open mind about medication.

SSRIs are commonly known as antidepressants, and they can be extremely helpful in treating moderate to severe cases of depression. Antidepressants don't work immediately, but over time they can level out your child's mood to allow them to participate more fully in school and life. SSRIs work by increasing the amount of serotonin available in your child's brain. This can correct neurological imbalances that doctors believe may be responsible for depression. Many people are wary of antidepressants, but they are safe and effective when taken according to a doctor's direction.