Depression in Children often are not diagnosed because it is normal for children to be moody, feel sad and lonely especially in some situations where they feel disappointed, rejected, and unappreciated. The feeling of sadness often lessen and will be totally diminished with time, but when these bad moods interfere with the child's ability to function, lingers for weeks, months, or longer, or they always have angry behavior, that must be the time to seek professional help.
- Having bad moods or irritability that persists for a long time
- The feeling of "being in the dumps"
- Low Self-esteem
- The Feeling of Hopelessness and Helplessness
- Social Withdrawal
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep
- Lack of energy
- Inability to enjoy the things that use to bring pleasure
- Inability to concentrate
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Aches and Pain that don't respond to treatments
- FREQUENT THOUGHTS OF DEATH AND SUICIDE
- Lowered levels of neurotransmitters in the brain
- Death of a loved one
- Separation/Divorce of parents
- Breakup with girlfriend/boyfriend (teens)
- Stress (School, Home)
- Chronic Illness
- Many depressive symptoms
- Social Isolation
- Talks of suicide, hopelessness, helplessness
- Increased acting out behaviors (sexual, behavioral)
- Substance abuse
- Increased crying or reduced emotional expression
- Focus on morbid/negative themes
- Giving away possessions
Consult a pediatrician first to rule out any physical illness. If depression is suspected, your pediatrician may refer you to a Psychiatrist, a medical doctor who can diagnose, perform treatment, and prescribe medicines; or a Psychologist, A health personnel who can diagnose and treat depression but unable to give prescription. It is important to seek medical advice immediately because early detection and diagnosis is important in treating kids with depression. The psychiatrist or psychologist can perform a complete evaluation and start a treatment plan that may include counselling, medicine, or both. The counselor might prescribe some sort of group counselling where the family works with the child in therapy.
THE PARENT'S ROLE
As a parent, it is our responsibility to ensure that our kids are always happy and comfortable with their lives, but there are things that are beyond our control. It often make us feel guilty and frustrated because our child's depression maybe caused by the things that we do or didn't do. These are the ways that we can help our children cope with depression.
- Make sure that the child adheres to the medicine and treatments
- Incorporate physical activity in the daily activities of living to alleviate the symptoms of depression
- Talk and listen to the child. Let him express what he feels and offer love and support
- Accept the situation and never tell the child to snap out of it
- Watch out for suicidal warning signs at all times
- Don't shame or punish the child, it can make the child feel less confident
- Allow the child to make mistakes. Overprotection can be perceived as lack of faith in the child's abilities
- Don't expect the child to do exactly as you say all the time
- Don't force your child down the path you wanted to follow. Avoid trying to relive your youth through your child's activities and experiences.
NOTE: The owner of the image here is a kid who suffered from depression because of her disability (she has a clubbed foot). As of now, she's recovering from her depression, she's into continued counselling which helped her a lot, and thanks to her mom, she seek for professional help when she have noticed that her child was feeling depressed. You can check out her blog Unbroken Skyscraper.