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What should I do if I think my child is depressed?


Early diagnosis is key:

Many parents hope their child might grow out of their current behaviour, often children do. But if you have had concerns for several weeks or more it might be time to consider some professional help.

Research has shown that early accessing treatment early can really improve a child’s chances of not experiencing further problems later on in life, with early intervention and the right treatment your child can recover and go on to lead a happy, fulfilling life.

Benefits of early diagnosis:

  • Depression often reoccurs – preschool children with depression are almost three times as likely to suffer with depression in primary or secondary school1.
  • Early detection and treatment make it less likely that your child will suffer later on in life.


What should I do if I think my child or teenager is depressed?

1. Talk to them – if possible talk to your child about how they are feeling. It is very reassuring for children and teenagers to feel that their parents are interested in them. Talking to them can be hard – they may be too young and depressed children and teenagers are often withdrawn and not willing to open up. Try not to trivialise their problems – they may seem small to you but they are really important to them. Children sometimes ‘test’ their parent’s reactions with small problems before divulging their real concerns.

Starting a discussion can, if nothing else, show them that you care.

2. Seek help – child mental health is complicated so seeking help from a professional specifically trained is important. Child and adolescent psychiatrists are trained to understand the specific issues that young people may struggle with. An assessment with a psychiatrist will indicate what the problem may be and will look across a spectrum of disorders – sometimes the symptoms of depression can actually be due to something else.


We can arrange appointments with a child and adolescent psychiatrist, often within a few days. Call 020 3761 7026 to chat to one of our qualified advisors. Our team have successfully helped hundreds of families and know what you are going through.


What to expect from the assessment appointment

  • The assessment is tailored towards your child’s age and symptoms
  • Assessments last on average 2 hours
  • Questions are sent to the parent before the assessment to gather background information and help the psychiatrist tailor the assessment session
  • Depending on circumstances parents may be involved in the assessment – your clinical advisor will be able to answer any questions you have
  • A full report is sent to the parents within 10-15 days following the assessment. This will give a diagnosis, if there is one, as well as advise on treatment options.
  • Clinical Partners can arrange further treatment such as counselling, CBT, psychotherapy and where advised, medication. Alternatively parents can take the psychiatric report to their GP, who may or may not choose to use this to determine future treatment for your child. We can guide you through this process.


Support for the whole family

It can be incredibly stressful for the whole family when a child has depression or another mental health condition.

Parents can feel completely helpless, frustrated and extremely worried. Siblings can also find the time stressful - there are often more arguments, and seeing their brother or sister suffering can be distressing.

Family therapy and parenting support can be incredibly helpful for the whole family but also for the depressed child. Working with a family therapist can teach parents coping mechanisms and ways of dealing with the negative thought patterns and behaviours displayed by depressed children. Therapy sessions can be invaluable to diffusing tension and creating happy and healthy experiences for the whole family.

We have a team of family therapists who work with a broad variety of issues. Our clinical advisors can advise you on whether this would be of help to you.


If you would like to talk to someone today about your child please call 020 3761 7026 or contact us here.

1 Luby JL, Gaffrey MS et al. Trajectories of preschool disorders to full DSM depression at school age and early adolescence: Continuity of preschool depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, vol 171(7), July 2014

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