What caused my child’s depression?

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

Have you ever thought about what the source of your child’s depression symptoms are? Have you discussed with them why they think they have depression?

A recent study from the United Kingdom explored 465 adolescent participants with diagnosed mild to severe depression. From the interviews with the participants, the researchers created three common beliefs of how the adolescents believed their depression developed.

  • One group did not know how they became depressed. To them, it seemed as if their symptoms came out of nowhere one day – and since then they have continued to have the same or worse symptoms.

  • Another group felt their symptoms started after a stressful experience. Some of these experiences involved feeling rejected, or being a victim of abuse or bullying, and other forms of stress. One of the most common stress experience was because of pressure to keep up or do well on schoolwork.

  • The last group felt the depression came from something inside them and blamed themselves for their depression symptoms.

Photo Credit: eltpics via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: eltpics via Compfight cc

The researchers believe that these beliefs influence how adolescents seek and participate in mental health. How can this be? If your adolescent feels like their depression is something they caused, they might feel guilty or embarrassed about getting help. If they feel like the depression is because of a stressful experience and they are still going through that stress (like difficult schoolwork), they might think that there is nothing that will help unless they get out of that situation. Some issues with feeling that way are that – 1) it is normal to feel guilty when depressed because guilt and shame can be symptoms of depression – if your child gets help, they should get better and 2) even if they are in a stressful situation, depression treatment can help them cope with that situation better.

To read more about these issues, see our article about feeling guilty and about keeping up with academics.

Do you think your child relates to any of the three groups above? How might you discuss this with them?

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