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Do I Tell My Children I'm Depressed?

Question:

Should you tell your children you suffer from depression (I am a single parent and they are 11 and 9 years old). What should I tell them.

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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

Your children probably already know that something is wrong; they just don’t have a name for it yet. More importantly, they may not understand that it is a treatable and manageable problem that cease to be a big problem in the future if it is cared for properly. Your symptoms and their fears about their own safety and security need to be addressed so that there is reason to understand that things are under control and should be getting better soon. My advice to you is to first make sure that you are getting (or will shortly get) some professional help with your depression. This may include medication and/or psychotherapy. Only when your treatment is in place (when you have some hope to offer your children) should you talk to them about your depression. I’d talk about it in general terms and emphasize that you are doing the responsible thing to take care of yourself (and of them). “Mommy is feeling sad and tired lately, but she has gone to the doctor and has some treatment that will help her to feel better. And then follow through with your treatment so that what you have said to your children has the best possible chance of coming true. Good luck.

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