5 Ways to Help Children and Young Adults Cope With Depression
As written in USA Today in March 2019, “More young adults in the U.S. are experiencing mental health issues, and digital media usage might be partly to blame, said a new study.”
“Between 2005 and 2017, the rate of adolescents reporting symptoms consistent with major depression in the last 12 months jumped 52 percent,” according to a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
“The study found a 63 percent increase in young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 reporting symptoms of depression between 2009 and 2017. It also showed significant increases in the rates of young adults who reported serious psychological distress and suicidal thoughts or suicide-related outcomes during similar time periods.”
That’s concerning if you’re a parent, guardian, or caregiver. But, thankfully, there are ways that you can help them cope with depression.
1. Recognize the warning signs.
As with adults, common symptoms of depression are:
Lack of interest
Feelings of guilt or helplessness
Overeating or appetite loss
Chronic aches and pains
Suicidal thoughts or attempts
For young adults, in particular, don’t overlook signs like dropping grades, obsessing over past failures, substance abuse, and changes in their routine.
If you notice any of these symptoms, this is definitely the case with suicidal thoughts or attempts, seek help immediately. If you’re not sure where to start, speak with their pediatrician, contact, a local mental health service, or use an online resource like the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Additionally, if there are any weapons, medications, or alcohol in your home, make sure that they are securely locked away.
2. Provide your child with emotional support.
Spend quality time with your child. Actively listen to what your child has to say. Encourage honest conversations. And, be supportive of them during both their good and bad days.
3. Establish a healthy routine.
Also, like adults, children experiencing depression need structure and a healthy routine. Make sure that they have a consistent sleep schedule, are eating healthy snacks and meals, and getting enough physical activity. You don’t have to push them. But, even going for a family walk after dinner is a simple way to spend quality time with them, relieve stress, and get a little Vitamin D.
You may also want to suggest that they take a break from social media as well.
4. Don’t let your child feel isolated.
It’s been found that 80% of the population under 18 years of age struggle with loneliness. And, depression can accelerate this.
You don’t want to force your child to do anything that they’re uncomfortable with. But, you could encourage your child to interact with others by planning family gatherings or sleepovers with their friends. You could also suggest that they pick-up an extracurricular activity or join a club affiliated with their school.
5. Take care of yourself.
Attending to the needs of your child can be exhausting. But, you can’t be much help to them if you’re not up to it mentally, emotionally, or physically. Make sure that you maintain a healthy routine, engage in self-care when you have the time, and talk to other people who are going through the same experience, like another parent or support group.