Depression is very much a modern condition. We are now more likely than ever to admit to being depressed, with statistics indicating that diagnoses of depression are rising at an alarming rate. What many people don’t realize, however, is that depression also affects children, so if you are concerned about your child’s mental health, here are five signs you might need to consult a child psychologist.
All children suffer from moods, just as adults do. Ask the parent of any teenager and they will tell you the same. General moodiness and bouts of sadness are nothing to be concerned about. They are just everyday emotions we all experience on a daily basis. The problem comes when a low mood begins to impact on everyday life and affects a child’s home life, their schoolwork, and their willingness to interact with friends.
Depressed people take refuge in sleep. They also have low energy. Some kids sleep more than others and most teenagers will sleep for more than twelve hours a day. There are no rights or wrongs as we are all different, but you know your child better than anyone, so if you notice that he or she is sleeping more than usual, it is a red flag that something is wrong.
We tend to retreat into our own little world when we are depressed. It’s a case of raise the drawbridge and close down the shutters. A depressed child is no different. Your child may lose interest in socializing with friends or stop going to extracurricular activities. If you notice this behavior, it is important that you find the underlying cause of why they no longer wish to see friends or do the things they enjoy.
Fall in Grades
Once depression takes hold, you will notice a drop in performance at school. Instead of reading your child the riot act when their grades sink like a stone, ask if they are having problems and talk to their teachers to see if there is anything wrong at school.
Changes in Appetite
Depression usually affects the appetite. Your child might start comfort eating, which turns into a downward cycle because putting weight on means a loss of self-esteem. Some children restrict their eating in response to depression, as a way of asserting a sense of control.
Minor non-specific illnesses, such as headaches, stomachaches and other complaints that never seem to clear up, need investigating. These may be caused by depression.
Irritability and violent outbursts are another symptom of depression. Depressed kids are more sensitive to rejection than happy kids, so they tend to be more volatile.
The danger with depression in children is that the symptoms are often dismissed by doctors and parents. We have a tendency to blame all depressive behavior in teenagers as normal teenage moodiness, whereas in fact in many cases it is caused by clinical depression.
The biggest risk with depressed kids is that they will attempt suicide, so you suspect your child is depressed ask for help as quickly as possible.