May is Mental Health Awareness Month. According to American Psychological Association News, March 8, 2019, “more U.S. adolescents and young adults in the late 2010’s vs. mid 2000’s experienced serious psychological distress, major depression or suicidal thoughts and more attempted suicide.”
Anxiety and depression are on the rise and suicide is now the second leading cause of death among adolescents. As a parent, you may think your child is fine because he doesn’t complain. So, how do you know if your child is depressed?
Here are the signs to watch out for:
· Inability to fall asleep or remain asleep for at least a week.
· Loss of appetite and/or weight loss without trying to do so.
· Feelings of extreme hopelessness and a sense of doom.
· Inability to concentrate on work or family duties.
· Feeling down or sad all the time.
· No longer finding enjoyment in things or activities that you previously enjoyed.
· Thoughts of wishing he were dead and/or actual ideas of wanting to harm himself.
· Feeling consumed by intense worry or concern that bad things are going to happen to him or his family.
From When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
Studies have shown that in the context of an unsupportive and homophobic environment, gay and lesbian teenagers often escape into substance abuse and other risky behaviors at a greater rate than their heterosexual counterparts.
Parents of LGBT kids can buffer their children from bullying and a hostile environment by keeping the lines of communication open. Steps you can take to be your child’s ally:
1. Remain involved in their lives. Ask how they feel on a daily basis.
2. Don’t avoid topics that can make you feel uncomfortable such as safe sex, harassment at school even if it may appear that they do not want to talk.
3. Let them know that they are loved and that they matter and that if something is wrong, there is still hope and it can get better.
4. Seek a therapist if your child’s depression doesn’t lift.
Talking with your LGBT kids about their mental health is one of the most important conversations you’ll ever have.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.