What to Do
After talking to your child, you also might want to talk to her teacher or friends and see how your child is acting at school and outside the home. Have they noticed a difference? If you or other important adults in your child's life suspect a problem with depression, here are a few suggested actions to take:
- Take careful notes about the behaviors that concern you. Note how long the behaviors have been going on, how often they occur, and how severe they seem to be.
- Make an appointment with a mental health professional or your child's doctor for evaluation and diagnosis.
- Get accurate information from libraries, hotlines, or other sources.
- Ask questions about treatments and services.
- Talk to other families in your community.
- Find family network organizations.
Some children try to numb their feelings of depression with other destructive behaviors like smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, using marijuana or other illegal drugs, gambling, or over-eating. If an addiction to one of these substances or activities develops, it will be important to treat your child for both the addiction and the mental illness. Try to prevent that from happening by showing your child other ways to cope with his emotions and to "escape" in a way that is safe and fun.
If your doctor diagnoses your child's illness as depression, there are many different treatment options available. Your child's depression treatment plan may include medical treatment and/or psychotherapy. You should develop this plan with your healthcare provider and other members of your family, including your child; giving your child an active role in planning his treatment can be very important to his improvement and recovery.