We all get the blues, even children, however some children may be feeling something more than just “down”. Childhood depression is both real and serious.
Signs of childhood depression are overall similar to those of adult depression, they include:
- Prolonged sadness/hopelessness
- Social withdrawal
- Changes in appetite
- Fatigue and/or low energy
- Trouble concentrating
- Impaired thinking/concentration
- Changes in sleep
Childhood depression can even cause thoughts about death or suicide. In younger children, sometimes symptoms are “masked” so your child might act out or appear angry, instead of sad. Studies show that first-time depression in children is happening younger than previously.
If you think your child has some or any of the symptoms mentioned for 2 weeks or more, please consult a medical professional. Sometimes other conditions such as OCD, conduct disorder and ADHD can contribute to depression, as well as family history.
Like in adults, childhood depression can be caused by any number of factors including: physical health, life events, family history, environment, genetic vulnerability and biochemical disturbance. Remember that depression isn’t just a passing mood or condition that will resolve itself, depression needs to be diagnosed and treated. Treatments for childhood depression include psychotherapy (counseling) and medication.
It is always important to be a listening and attentive ear for your child. Dinnertime or bedtime is a great time to “check-in” with your child, ask about their day, and talk about their feelings. Continue to develop their emotional intelligence which includes recognizing and talking about how they feel. Some stories from Storybook to help with different emotions include: Today Sadness Came to Visit Me, Fear: I’m not Afraid of you Anymore, and The Doubtful Circle.
Storybook is a great way to form and maintain a bond with your child, so set aside 5-10 minutes a day to connect with your child. Remember in life’s ups and downs, you are your child’s biggest support and ally.