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Depression hits anyone, regardless of age and stature. No one is exempted – not a celebrity, not the happiest neighbor next door, not even your child.
Childhood depression is real, and it can start very early. Kids are at a stage where they’re free to express themselves, especially in the emotional aspect. They are known for throwing tantrums, lashing out, feel sad and moody, which would most likely last for a while. However, there’s something that parents should know: kids are vulnerable to depression too.
It’s not just a regular “blues” that children go through as part of their emotional development. Sadness is not an indication of childhood depression either. This circumstance will alter a child’s ability to socialize, participate in hobbies or personal endeavors, and live a regular school and family life.
Once you notice a drastic change in their behavioral patterns, it’s crucial to take it slow. As parents, you have to have open, honest, yet gentle communication with your child. They will open up to you on their terms if you are their safe space. Parents have a responsibility to help their children actualize themselves so they can thrive in their environment.
Depression and its profound effects
If there’s one thing you should learn, it’s not to stigmatize mental illness. They are detrimental to a person’s well-being, hindering them from achieving a happy and fulfilling life. It changed many of their relationships and other serious consequences.
Childhood depression is not just a matter of being sad – no, they’re hardly the same. You must be sharp and observant in spotting the signs they display firsthand and consult a child therapist or psychologist to determine the next steps. The reason why childhood depression is left undiagnosed and untreated is the way society dismisses the problem. The way they pass off depression, in general, is that it’s merely a phase of gloominess.
In a world where children are not given a break brave and dedicated author named Charlene Turner wrote the Sun Lion book to help children be a better version of themselves. Charlene had to go through a constant battle with childhood depression, anxiety, and dyslexia. Thankfully, she was able to recover through medical and wellness interventions. She is on a mission to be the light of good health and write a book that empowers children to overcome the most challenging battles in life.
How to tell if your child is depressed
Depression is not just about feeling lethargic and losing motivation in anything. In the case of children, it often manifests in angry outbursts or weak dispositions. By watching your child’s behavior, you can get them the help they need as early as now.
These are the early signs to look out for in childhood depression:
- A surge of cranky or angry behavior
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Antisocial tendencies
- Fear of rejection
- A decrease in appetite
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Emotional outbursts
- Lack of ability to focus
- Chronic fatigue
- Physical pain that doesn’t respond to treatment
- Unfounded feelings of guilt and shame
- Being self-critical
- Lack of enjoyment
- Suicidal thoughts
Some children do not necessarily feel everything at once. These symptoms manifest in various situations, so parents must constantly look out for their children. Even though they can thrive in a typical environment, unpredictable events affect a child’s mental state. Childhood depression usually stems from abuse, neglect, and having suffered an accident where they have less likelihood of recovering.
Typical treatments for childhood depression
Children should not have depression at their supposedly most joyful and innocent moments. The treatment options available for children are similar to the ones catered to adults.
Here are things you can do as a parent:
Open conversations about sadness and depression
Children cannot grasp well the negative emotions they feel. Parents must shed light on it and let them know that depression is natural. Assure them that you’re there to comfort them and make known that their feelings are valid.
Visiting the doctor
Your child’s behavioral changes can stem from different factors. A doctor can provide better diagnoses and medical advice on how to deal with childhood depression. Once they finish the physical exam and find the symptoms, they will refer you to a child therapist.
Exercise patience and kindness.
Parents should be the child’s source of comfort and courage. You are the person they turn to when they feel hopeless and helpless. It may not be easy for any parent to accept that their child is experiencing depression, but you must be their safe space where they can learn more about their feelings and navigate the world better with your guidance.