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Parenting Programmes to Help Depressed Kids

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 3 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Depression Teenagers Children Child

If your child suffers from depression, you can sometimes feel helpless as a parent. You want to help and offer the right support but with so many recommendations and approaches, knowing what to do is not easy.

Some recent studies have looked at specific parenting programmes and how these can help depressed children or teenagers. Both showed promising results and may now be offering another tool for you in your efforts to help a depressed child.

Participating in Your Child’s Depression Therapy

The important aspect to take away from these studies is that parents can make a difference to their child’s depression treatment. Children are not isolated within their struggles; support and guidance from parents are integral to their recovery from depression.

How Mothers Can Help

One study in Belgium looked at how mothers could help a depressed child. The study was done at a mental health unit for children. The children were getting psychiatric care for conditions such as depression and anxiety. Researchers wanted to see how a parenting programme for mothers could make a difference compared to those children who just received the standard psychiatric care in the unit.

Mothers were given an eight-week training programme to complement the therapeutic support they were already receiving. The children continued to receive the previous treatment as well, which meant that the parenting programme that some children received was in addition to normal treatment.

Positive Results from a Parenting Programme

At the end of the eight weeks, researchers found that by offering parenting support to the mothers, children experienced enhanced emotional states with improvement in their symptoms. Results were more positive in comparison with the children who just received the normal, standard psychiatric treatment. Approximately half of the children showed improvements to their behaviour and emotions, with improved ability to regulate negative emotions and moods.

A New Dutch Study

Yet another research study showed positive results from a parenting programme to help depressed children. This one looked more specifically at teenagers who were considered to be ‘at risk’ with major behavioural issues and intense conflict with their parents.

Positive Results in Depressed Teenagers

Study results showed that the use of a parenting programme in these families translated into a nearly fifty percent reduction of clinically defined problems exhibited by the teenagers.

These problems included emotional issues, poor peer relationships and antisocial behaviour along with hyperactivity. Better still was that the programme showed success across all kinds of families from different cultures and environments.

Better Options for Parents

Both studies suggest that the role of parents makes a significant difference in the treatment outcomes for depressed children and teenagers. If you have a child who is depressed and receiving treatment, talk to your doctor about how you can help.

Parenting programmes and family counselling can be important in helping your child to recover faster and to a greater extent than just medication and psychotherapy that they undergo alone and in isolation to the family as a whole. Together, you can help your child regain a positive, enjoyable life again.

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