Talking Down: What Not to Say When Your Child is Dealing with Depression

Depression is one of those hard-to-understand disorders. Its primary symptoms are losing interest in one’s favorite activities or feeling sad and hopeless (often without a concrete reason) for two weeks or more. These signs are frequent in Colorado teenagers. Over 31% of them regularly feel sad and hopeless for two or more weeks in a row.

One of the biggest factors of this disorder is the environment, such as when the parents separate. Parental separation is linked to the development of depression as children grow up. So, if you and your partner or spouse are planning to separate, it might be best to keep your children out of the pressure of court with divorce mediation.

About one in five children have a mental health disorder. Over 50% of these disorders begin before the age of 14. These are alarming statistics to read as a parent. Nobody wants their child to go through such mental pain. This is why it’s vital for you as their guardian to be their first line of support — even if it might be difficult to understand what they’re going through.

Here’s what you shouldn’t say to your child when they’re dealing with depression.

Look at the Bright Side

This is one of the most frequently used phrases when trying to cheer someone up. But depression is not something a person snaps out of quickly, and not everyone deals with their emotions the same way. As sincere as you might be when you say this to your child, it won’t really help them. This is because you’re shutting their feelings out in favor of yours. Instead, offer to talk to them about what they’re struggling with. Let them open up completely. By doing this, you’re validating how they feel and showing that you’re willing to understand them.

Think How it Affects Us

Father comforting his daughterIt’s normal to feel some sadness and frustration when you’re helping your child deal with their depression. Sure, you do get affected, but think about the baggage you’re adding to your kid’s mental health by highlighting guilt. It’s important to understand that it’s difficult for anyone, let alone a child, to think of anything other than the mental pain they feel.

As hard as it is to do, you need to be their source of strength when they’re going through depressive episodes. Do your best to be calm and comforting. If it’s getting too much for you, talk to your own support system (psychiatrist, friends, spouse, parents) to ease your nerves.

It’s All in Your Head

This is another way of downplaying the severity of your kid’s feelings. It’s a real illness that everyone can get, like the common cold. Depression just doesn’t manifest physically. Instead, ask their pediatrician if they can recommend a child psychiatrist. A professional can give your child the therapy and medication you need. And like any method of treatment, make sure they get to sessions and take their meds on time.

Being a parent is difficult, especially when you’re taking care of a child with depression. It’s important to practice being mindful. Ask yourself: Am I saying this because I need to or just because I want to? If it’s the latter, reevaluate and revise it into something helpful.

It would help if you also remembered that patience and understanding goes a long way. You’re a part of their support system. Your child should be able to count on you to be strong for them, especially when times are rough.

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