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How Can I Support My Child Who Struggles With Depression? 

a young girl in bed struggling with depression

Disclaimer: We are not mental health professionals. For any mental health concerns, always seek professional help.

As educational therapists, we are increasingly hearing from parents concerned about their children's depression and anxiety. This is not surprising given the rising pressures on our youth. According to national statistics, high school students report the highest rates of depression at 16%. The Surgeon General has declared a national mental health crisis, citing loneliness, lack of community, and isolation as significant factors. Many of our students experience some degree of anxiety and depression, which points to the need for a supportive community and teamwork in addressing these challenges. Our teens, in particular, are hungry for belonging and often turn to the internet to find it. Unfortunately, traditional sources of community, such as churches, groups, and sports teams, are seeing less participation. This lack of connection is especially challenging during the turbulent teenage years.

Understanding Depression

According to the CDC, depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. The five most common symptoms include:

1. Persistent sadness or low mood.

2. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed.

3. Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting.

4. Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.

5. Loss of energy or increased fatigue.

Research shows that these symptoms can significantly impact a child's daily life, academic performance, and overall well-being. Addressing depression requires a multi-faceted approach, including professional help, support from family, and community engagement.

Ways to Support Your Child

1. Foster Connections Based on Values and Passions

Encourage your child to find connections that align with their values and passions. Joining a club or group that engages in a cause they care about can provide a sense of purpose beyond external achievements, such as college applications. This genuine connection can be a powerful motivator and a source of joy.

2. Build a Community

While online connections can sometimes be unhealthy, they can also be a valuable source of support. Encourage your child to participate in online communities that promote positive interactions and shared interests. Additionally, engaging in community service can help your child develop empathy and see the value in contributing to their community. This can provide a sense of belonging and purpose.

3. Develop Personal Growth Plans

Help your child develop a personal growth plan. Begin by identifying their core values. A fun family activity could involve using value cards to select their top ten values and then narrowing them down to three. Once these values are identified, discuss activities or goals that align with these values. Be specific in your feedback to boost their personal growth. Raising awareness of what your child values can help them find purpose and improve their performance.

The Importance of Community and Support

Supporting teens and children with depression involves nurturing their sense of worth and helping them find meaningful connections. By fostering genuine relationships based on shared values, encouraging community involvement, and guiding personal growth, we can help our children navigate these challenging times. These strategies not only aid in managing depression but also promote overall well-being and resilience.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how we can support your child, please visit our website at []. Together, we can build a community that supports and uplifts our children.

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