Q. How can I explain my depression to my third-grader? I don’t want to hurt his chances of having good mental health if he knows I’m struggling.
Answer By: Myrna Weissman, Ph.D.
Diane Goldman Kemper Family Professor of Epidemiology (in Psychiatry)
Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University
The evidence is quite strong that if you can keep yourself in remission, which may require continual available treatment, your children are less affected; again, this is the case when we look at populations as a whole. On an individual level you might explain that you understand that he/she sees you looking sad but you are taking care of this problem. You might say, “it’s a grownup problem called depression and Mommy is getting help for it.” If you are still concerned, consider having a consultation with a clinical expert who specializes in working with children. A therapist can talk with you about the things that worry you and suggest ways you can engage your child in a discussion.