After the diagnosis
Once a child is diagnosed with a mental illness it can be tough on the whole family, especially if nobody has any experience with mental illnesses. It can end up causing tension that wasn’t there before, but it is important to understand what your child may be going through and try to help them through this difficult time in their lives to ease some of that tension.
How to help
The best thing to do is not immediately try to smother your child with love or continuously watch them. Yes, it is important to keep an eye on them, but they may feel overwhelmed with their own plethora of feelings and may feel trapped when you unintentionally smother them with all of yours — even when it’s all out of love. If you have never had a mental illness it can be extremely difficult to put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are going through. But you have to understand that mental illnesses don’t get fixed overnight, and just because they may have one good day, doesn’t mean they’re cured.
What to expect
Every person deals with their mental illness differently, so everyone’s road to recovery will look different as well. When it comes to mental illnesses, like depression, it is common for the child’s personality to change and they may not seem like themselves. Irritability is also a huge factor and can seem like a child acting out when in reality they are struggling to express/deal with their emotions correctly.
What to do after your child is diagnosed with a mental illness.
Sensitive topics to stay away from
Education: Educating your child about depression is a crucial first step. This helps your child understand the possible causes (genetics, environmental factors, bullying, stress), understand brain chemistry (low serotonin), and reduce self-blame. It also normalizes what your child is going through.