Depression is hard to identify and it’s more intense in the case of child depression. It does not just affect the one who is depressed, but everyone associated with them. And, if the one depressed is your child, the struggle is harder, longer and challenging than you’d expect.
As a parent of a mentally disturbed child, it is your duty to keep a check on your child’s emotional as well mental well-being and identify any warning signs of severe mental illness. It is equally important to understand that depression varies from one person to another. And, this variation is particularly wider among children.
Depression – Children vs Adults
Many studies and surveys state that most cases of depression are registered amid adults or aged people. However, truth be told, children are more prone to depression than adults. Their lack of expression and thought is regarded as the sole reason for most cases going unnoticed at a younger age. For instance, a child suffering from depression may not be able to express himself (or herself) clearly and his depressive symptoms may include refusing to attend the school on a regular basis, cry on every petty issue, remain irritated all day long, and throw unnecessary tantrums.
On the other hand, adults are in a better position to talk about their situation, problems and mental tensions; can get vocal (or even cause physical harm); and take out their frustrations or anger by adopting different means of violence. Teens, too, are better off than children. They find solace in talking about self-harm, ending their life and doubting their own insignificance.
Depression is definitely treatable, if recognized at an early stage and dealt with proper medication and mental treatment. It is crucial to identify the root cause of a child’s depressive symptoms and rectify them. Family problems, divorce of parents, domestic violence, negligence at work or play, bullying, and even genetics can play a major determining role. Such children must be given timely counseling sessions with a psychotherapist, one-to-one encounter and professional medical help. Even if any,in such case is absent, a child can still suffer from depression.
Assess Your Child’s Condition
Take out sufficient time for your child and devote it to their best care possible. But first and foremost, know the signs to assess whether your child is going through depression or not:
- Lack of concentration and forgetfulness: If your child is facing constant problem in concentrating on learning or studying for a long duration, this is a sign you must not ignore. Learning disorders are often associated with depression among children, as below as the age of seven. Forgetting easy lessons and not being able to comprehend one’s easily understandable chapters is a warning signal.Being in a low energy state most time of the day must not be ignored as well.
- Disturbed Sleeping Routine: One of the most common symptoms of depression among children is their disturbed or irregular sleeping routine. Sleeping lesser than usual and even sleeping more than usual is a sign of worry. Restlessness and irritability are also associated with such disturbed routines. In such cases, children are unable to relax, both physically and mentally and hence, become a victim of depression sooner than later.
- Avoiding friends and family: Children with early signs of depression usually prefer spending a major part of their days’ time alone in closed enclosures (or maybe their own rooms). Staying aloof, even at family functions or birthday parties, is a common sight of depressed children. Opting to spend more time indoors rather than engaging oneself in outdoor games and activities is a not-so-common phenomenon with children of young age. And, a lack of enthusiasm to attend social gatherings or complaints of boredom among cousins/friends is a sign of precaution.
- Frequent mood swings: Temper tantrums are a daily issue with depressed kids. Random fights with friends (and even siblings), avoiding talking to anyone, acting stubborn without a reason, reacting in a numb manner, or having anxiety attacks all points towards the presence of depressive factors. Depressed kids get sad for no reason and lock themselves in their own traumatic world of thoughts.
- Occurrence of other related problems: Many children suffer from similar mental illnesses such as anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), etc. It is often advised by medical professionals that on the diagnosis of such disorders, the child must also be evaluated for depression symptoms. Such mental disorders are predicted to be coexisting conditions and signal the presence of one another.
- Altering eating habits: The easiest to grasp, drastic changes in eating habits are often the first signs identified by parents of depressed children. Eating excessively more or less than their usual diet all of a sudden for longer durations indicate the presence of some kind of mental strains they must have developed. An unusual weight gain or loss is another associated sign.
- Contradictory interests: A depressed child will no longer enjoy the activities which once used to be his favorite. Throwing away his/her favorite childhood toy, being uninterested in his most enjoyed indoor games, staying aloof from his soft toys he was once addicted to, are common symptoms of being depressed mentally. The daily routine activities are no longer his choice. From fun activities to studying routines, nothing restores his mental peace.
Remember, even if your child is not looking sad all the time, he or she may actually be clinically depressed. Such children desire extra love, care and support. The slightest feeling of being left alone or ignored, can make them feel vulnerable and unwanted.
If you feel your child may be depressed, do not waste any more time and seek professional help urgently. The longer you try to evade the issue, the more harm it will do with your child.
Have any questions hovering over your mind? Feel free to ask them in the comment section below!