Dear Parents and Guardians,
With the most recent events with a Logan County High School student, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide resources to help your child process what has occurred and to assist you in working through his or her emotions. Understanding depression (or any crisis, for that matter) can be a difficult task, particularly with adolescents and teenagers. Yet, childhood depression does look different than the typical everyday emotions one expects from a child. Knowing the difference is crucial and I wish to make these resources available to help you and your child. Keep in mind, it is typical for your child to process a crisis differently, with some demonstrating multiple symptoms and others only a couple. It is important to note that 4-8% of adolescents and teens experience depression. However, when faced with a devasting event, these symptoms may become intensified.
Barry W. Goley, Ph.D.
Director of Pupil Personnel & Student Health Services
With depression, be aware that it typically moves beyond typical sadness, and will usually be more persistent and interfere with normal social activities, interests, hobbies, and family life. Look for the following symptoms of depression:
- Irritability or anger
- Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Social withdrawl
- Increased sensitivity to rejection
- Changes in appetite - either increased or decreased
- Changes in sleep (e.g., sleeping more than typical, or less than normal)
- Vocal outbursts or crying
- Difficulty concentrating
- Fatigue and low energy
- Physical complaints (e.g., headaches, stomaches)
- Reduced ability to function during typically enjoyable activities, such as activities with friends, family, churrch, or school
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Impaired thinking or concentration
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Remember these symptoms may be present at different times and in different environments. Additionally, your child may or may not show all of these at any one time. The most important thing to keep in mind is to look for anything out of the ordinary for your child.
BE SUPPORTIVE TO YOUR CHILD
One of the most important things to do during a crisis is to work with your child and help him or her process the trauma.
- It is critical to build empathy and understanding.
- Validate their feelings, but not their unhealthy behavior. For example, you could say, “It seems as though you’ve been really down lately. Is that true?” Make it clear that you want to try to understand what’s troubling him without trying to problem solve.
- Be compassionately curious with her. Ask questions about her mood gently, without being emotional.
- Do not be judgmental or try to solve their problems, even if you disagree with their point of view - hearing what they have to say is often more comforting, regardless if it is negative or not, and that you hear him, see him, and you are trying to understand him, not fix him.
- Involve him or her in activities; do not ignore them or leave them to be alone. Being alone can intesify the emotions, as teenage brains are designed to function on emotion at this age, rather than logical thinking
The following hotlines are available to help when you run out of options:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Text TEEN to 839863
|LifeSkills 24-Hour Help Line
1-888-837-3964 (Teen Line)
LifeSkills Children's Crisis Stabilization Unit
Advanced Behavioral Consultants
Russellville & Bowling Green
|For Immediate Emergencies!
Children and Depression
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practioners - Depression for Parents
Depression Among Children and Adolsecents
National Institute of Mental Health
KidsHealth Website on Depression
HealthyChildren.org Website on Adolescent Depression
Helpguide.org Website: Parent's Guide to Teen Depression
American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress: Teen Depression - A Guide for Parents