If you have relatives or close friends who have gone through a divorce, you might have watched one person navigate the process with minimal upheaval while his or her partner spiraled downward into depression. Does divorce really increase the risk of depression? How can you prepare yourself emotionally if you plan to divorce? And are the children of divorcing parents at an increased risk for depression? The following information provides positive steps that you can take to minimize the impact of divorce.

Statistics, Divorce and Depression

The Association for Psychological Science released a study in 2013 that shows that divorce doesn’t increase the risk of depression for everyone. However, almost 60 percent of those who divorced did experience another depressive episode if they had a previous history of depression. For those without a history of depression, that number dropped to just 10 percent. Researchers believe that these findings will help professionals as they treat people who are going through a divorce. A therapist or clinicians can provide extra services and support for individuals with the greatest risk.

Children and Depression: How Divorce Affects Them

Possibly even more concerning, a 2011 study found that children with divorced parents were more likely to experience suicidal tendencies. While parents often focus on teens when it comes to depression, younger children can struggle as well, so pay attention to indications that your middle-school child isn’t coping. A few of the symptoms in young people include:

•    Loss of interest in friends and/or activities,
•    Inability to focus,
•    Overall apathy,
•    Overly sensitive to feedback,
•    Hopelessness and sadness,
•    Acting out in anger and rage and
•    Feelings of shame and worthlessness.

How Parents Can Help a Depressed Teen

While you might not know what to do if your teen is battling depression, the sooner that you act, the better for your child. If you think that your offspring is depressed, you can take the following steps:

•    Talk with your teen and gently explain what you have noticed without judging him or her. He or she might not know what to say or struggle with expressing his or her feelings. Be patient and offer support.
•    See your family doctor for a depression screening for your child. He or she might refer you to a specialist.
•    Ask your son or daughter for input on the professional. If your adolescent doesn’t feel comfortable with the person, he or she won’t open up, which defeats the purpose of counseling.
•    Carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of antidepressants. Consider medication, but realize that you have additional options, including individual and group therapy.
•    Continue to provide encouragement to your teen, letting him or her know that you are there to help.
•    Encourage involvement with friends.
•    Encourage exercise.