Mental health issues can affect anyone, and at any stage in your life. Over time, you can learn to articulate your feelings and notice the signs of depression and anxiety within your life. But, for many people, this can be a challenge, and coming to an understanding about your emotions can be complicated and confusing. This is particularly true when it comes to children.
Picking up on mental health problems in your child can be difficult. However, you should always be mindful that they may be struggling with things that they don't know how to talk about. Depression is very common in children and is so often overlooked as kids can be experts in hiding their emotions from their parents. Quite often, changes in moods are put down to puberty, or being 'at that age'. Dismissing the signs and symptoms at this stage can lead to more significant mental health problems later on.
Spotting The Signs
There may be several signs that you should be aware of. For example, if your child suddenly loses interest in something that they used to be enthusiastic about. Guarded behaviors such as an unwillingness to talk about things, and hiding things can also show signs that there are deeper issues. Reclusive behaviour and spending too much time playing video games or on social media may also be symptomatic that your child is trying to escape feelings of unhappiness.
Your child's relationship with food may change, and this may go either way. You may notice that they are not eating at all and make excuses to leave food repeatedly, or they may binge on comfort foods. Habits formed at this age around food can be hard to break later on in life, and finding the right way to address this is vital.
Severe cases of depression in children may result in them self-harming. You may not notice that this is happening, as your child may be an expert in hiding any cuts.
What To Do
The first thing that you need to do is be supportive. Showing that you are there for your child and are not judging them is essential. You need to be careful not to force this issue, so find a gentle way of engaging your child. Try and make time to do something that they will enjoy together to build a connection and trust. Being honest and open with them about the fact that mental health can affect anyone is also a positive thing as it will let them know that they are not alone.
If you can get your child to open up about their feelings, you may want to look at child counseling services near me to find caring and professional support. A counselor will be trained to assist your child in developing coping strategies, and having someone who is specifically qualified in relating to children is essential.
Your child's mental health is something that you should always be aware of. Try and understand that if they seem as though they are acting out, it is because they are dealing with feelings that they cannot process. Showing them love and support will ensure they feel comfortable opening up to you, and from this, you can provide ongoing help.