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Depression & Your Child: A Guide for Parents & Caregivers

Until recently, it was believed that children didn’t — and couldn’t — get depressed. But kids do struggle with depression. In fact, some research has even suggested that babies can become depressed, according to Deborah Serani, PsyD, in her book Depression And Your Child: A Guide for Parents And Caregivers.

Serani is a clinical psychologist who’s been working with kids and adults with mood disorders for over 20 years. She’s also lived with depression since she was a child.

In the book, she writes: “As is the case with pediatric depression, my own depression didn’t hit with lightning-like speed. It was more of a slow burn, taking its toll in gnaws and bites before hollowing me out completely. After a suicide attempt as a college sophomore, I found help that finally reduced my depression. Until then, I accepted the sadness, despair, and overwhelming fatigue as the way my life just was.”

Neither Serani nor her parents realized that she was struggling with a serious illness. Thankfully, she eventually received a proper diagnosis and effective treatment. But an earlier intervention would’ve prevented many painful days and the suicide attempt. As Serani notes, “It is by sheer luck that I am here, alive, today.”

Today, we know a lot more about pediatric depression and suicide in kids and teens. And, while the bad news is that depression affects kids, the good news is that depression is highly treatable. With proper diagnosis and treatment, kids who have depression can lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.

In Depression And Your Child, Serani gives readers a step-by-step look at identifying and treating pediatric depression. Comprehensive, straightforward chapters feature everything from what normal child development looks like to how to parent a depressed child.

Specifically, Serani delves into the causes, symptoms and treatments for pediatric depression. For instance, in the chapter on defining pediatric depression, she shares 10 questions parents can ask themselves to identify if their child might be struggling. She also devotes an entire chapter to diagnosis, stressing the importance of early detection and revealing how a diagnosis is done.

Readers will find a thorough discussion of traditional and complementary treatments. As Serani writes, “I’m a big believer that there’s more than one way to treat illness — and finding what works for you and your child will be vital.”

In another chapter, Serani describes the various effective psychological and medical treatments for pediatric therapy, including family therapy, play therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication and hospitalization.

In the next chapter, she focuses on holistic approaches, elaborating on the many ways parents can help kids feed their senses with complementary medicine.

According to Serani, “What depression does to children, as well as to adults, is flatten the human experience. But feeding the senses in the right ways can help balance neurochemistry, revive sluggish neural pathways, and bring greater well-being to your child.” She outlines everything from bright light therapy to aromatherapy to foods that boost well-being.

Serani explores suicide and self-harm in a separate chapter. She shares excellent suggestions for how parents can help their kids reduce self-harming behaviors, which include cutting, picking, burning and bruising themselves.

In addition, Serani discusses the warning signs and risk factors for suicide in kids and teens. She lays out the different levels of suicidality so parents can intervene quickly. She shows how parents and kids can create a suicide prevention plan together.

She also provides parents with valuable tips on what to do after their child is diagnosed along with how to take better care of themselves. Plus, each chapter ends with a clear-cut case study, which illustrates the information in an easy-to-understand way.

Depression is a serious illness, and learning that your child is struggling with a clinical disorder can be devastating and overwhelming. You may be uncertain or even paralyzed about how to proceed and get your child the help they need.

Serani’s book is an accessible, well-written and supportive resource for parents to turn to. It simplifies complex and often confusing concepts, such as how pediatric depression manifests, how to recognize suicide warning signs in kids and how depression is treated.

It provides invaluable insight and concrete tips that help parents help their children by getting them properly diagnosed and treated. Serani also shares real-life examples along with stories of her own struggle and recovery from depression.

In short, Depression And Your Child is a must-read that truly offers life-saving facts and tips.

Depression & Your Child: A Guide for Parents & Caregivers

Psych Central's Recommendation:
Worth Your Time! +++

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Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor at Psych Central. She blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her own blog, Weightless, and about creativity on her second blog Make a Mess.

APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2016). Depression & Your Child: A Guide for Parents & Caregivers. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 May 2016
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 May 2016
Published on Psych All rights reserved.