Depression in Children & Teens

Sadly, depression is on the rise for everyone but increasing at a dramatic rate in young children and teenagers.  I work with educating young people on maintaining good Mental Health but it was highlighted to me recently that the parents, carers and family are lacking in education on recognizing Mental Health issues at an early stage.  I hope this blog will help those who need the support.

PLEASE reach out for help, to HELP our young people!

Signs & Symptoms

Any of these signs can occur in children who are not depressed, but when seen together, nearly every day, they are red flags for depression.

  • A sad or irritable mood for most of the dayteen depression image
  • Feeling sad or angry or being more tearful or cranky
  • Not enjoying things that used to make your child happy
  • A noticeable change in weight either up or down
  • A noticeable change in eating habits either excessively or not very much
  • Not able to sleep at night or too sleeping too much during the day
  • No longer wanting to be with family or friends
  • Lack of energy or feeling unable to do simple tasks
  • Feelings of worthlessness and/or guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble with focusing or making choices.
  • Changes at school
  • Not caring about what happens in the future
  • Aches and pains when nothing is really wrong
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide (extreme cases)

What Can I do to Help?

  • The basics for good mental health include a healthy diet, enough sleep, exercise, and positive relationships with other people at home and at school
  • Limit screen time
  • Encourage physical activity to help develop positive relationships with other people
  • One-on-one time with parentsTypes of help signpost
  • Emotional support
  • Deep understanding
  • Be patient
  • Constant encouragement
  • Always point out their good points
  • Always talk to your child NOT lecture them
  • Listen carefully
  • Never denounce the feelings of your child however stupid they sound
  • Do not ignore comments about suicide
  • Look out for hidden signals
  • Keep the faith that with time and treatment, depression will lift.

Causes

The exact causes of childhood and teen depression are unknown. But it is caused by a combination of factors that relate to:

  • Physical health
  • Life eventssad boy image
  • Stress
  • Drugs and/or alcohol
  • Watching too much TV
  • Family history
  • Environment
  • Genetic vulnerability
  • Biochemical disturbance

Safety Plan

  • Follow treatment plan for the child. Make sure they attend therapy and take any medication as prescribed
  • Write up a list of people (friends and family) to call when feelings get worse
  • Watch for the signs of suicide. These include talking about suicide in person or on the internet, giving away belongings, increased thoughts about death and substance abusewhats the plan image
  • Make a list of telephone numbers to have at hand
    • Doctor
    • Therapist
    • Aware
    • Pieta House
    • Local mental health crisis response team

Useful Numbers 

 Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis  1800 44 88 44
 Grow (Mental Health Support)  1890 474 474
Letterkenny University Hospital 074 9125888
Sligo General Hospital 071 9171111
Ambulance/ Garda 999/112
Pieta House North West  074 9126594
Aware (Depression Support) 1890 303 302
Samaritans Helpline 116 123
NowDoc 1850 400 911
Remember to look after yourself as parents, family members or carers.

Heather

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