It is important for parents to talk with their child if they have received a mood disorder diagnosis. The best way to discuss depression or bipolar disorder depends on the child’s age and developmental level. For younger children it may be easier to contextualize the conversation by comparing the diagnosis to that of a physical illness diagnosis. Parents can also explain that it’s normal to sometimes feel sad, angry, anxious, or irritable, but when these feelings are very intense, last for a long time, or interfere with school, friendships, and family relationships, it could be a sign that treatment is needed. Whatever the child’s age and level of maturity, make sure that the conversation takes place when the child or teen feels safe and comfortable.

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