Adults aren’t the only ones with mental illnesses. We also need to focus on fighting depression in children, and spotting the signs isn’t always easy.
Maybe you don’t think a child can get depressed, but they can. And maybe your reasons for thinking this way is because they have fewer responsibilities. Children don’t have to pay bills or got to work, or go through things like divorce, no, they don’t. But the truth is, depression in children is a very real problem, a serious one.
Either way, children are becoming depressed. We need to know why, we need to know what it looks like, and we have to know how to help them deal with this monster.
Does depression in children exist?
Honestly, there are many reasons why a child can get depressed. One way pertains to a physical reason. Sometimes, depression is just imbalances based on the brain. They can also be hormone changes as well. But children can also become depressed because of past trauma, their environment, or even because of past family history. So, how would you know if your child was depressed?
A few signs that point toward depression in your child:
Sometimes depression doesn’t look like depression. It sometimes looks like anger, especially in a child. There is a chance that your child is acting out in negative ways because he or she doesn’t know how to express their depression. Basically, they may not know how to talk about it, and it makes them angry in the process. If your child is angry most of the time, you need to find out why.
A bit further than just being angry is defiance. No one wants to deal with a little girl talking back or refusing to do chores, but sometimes we do. Now, most children will be defiant every once in a while, but not all the time.
When this child is depressed, they may be defiant a good portion of the time. It can get so bad that it will be hard to get them to do anything at all without facing a drawn-out rebellion. So, if your daughter, or son, that is, seems extremely difficult to deal with, then they could be depressed.
3. Bad grades
No one wants to get progress reports with failing grades. I know that’s one of the worst things for my child to bring home. It happens sometimes, and I believe at certain points in my son’s life, he was depressed, and so were his brothers. I could map those times because they were parallel to my divorce.
However, not all children who get bad grades have parents who’ve gone through a divorce. Sometimes signs of depression in children point toward bad grades from other things, like the examples listed above – trauma, family history, etc.
4. Lack of energy
When we think of a child, we think of a happy, full of life, rambunctious person. Well, honestly, most of them are if they’re healthy. When a child suffers from depression, it might not look like depression at all. It might just look like a tired child.
If your child has no energy, sleeps too much, or doesn’t want to go anywhere, this could actually be a major sign of depression. Pay attention to any sudden changes in your child’s activity level.
5. Weight loss or weight gain
This one is a dangerous symptom, and you must pay close attention to how much your child is eating. If your son eats a well-balanced diet or even occasionally eats a bit too much, things are probably okay. If he starts to eat less, and I mean a lot less, then it’s time to watch him closer. This is also true if he starts to eat too much.
Signs and symptoms of depression in children can mean severe eating disorders. Always remember, not only can it make you stop eating, but it can also make you drastically overeat. It’s a pretty well-hidden symptom for a while, but being attentive can bring this symptom into the light.
6. Sleep issues
Just like depression in adults, children can exhibit sleep problems. I know that children like to stay up late anyway, but if they seem to suffer from insomnia every night without “crashing” the next day, then something is really wrong.
Just like eating disorders, sleep problems can come in the form of too much sleep or too little. Your child may also be depressed if they want to stay in bed all day. And this is linked to the lack of energy I spoke of earlier.
7. Poor concentration
This symptom can come out in their grades, but it can also show in their interaction with you or the rest of the family. Poor focus or concentration is an alarming symptom of dissociation which comes with depression.
Sometimes, your son may just stare off into the distance when you’re talking to him. It might not be because he’s thinking of something more fun. It might be because he’s depressed and doesn’t even know why he’s doing it. Watch for a lack of focus in your child.
So, how can we recognize signs of depression in children, and help?
The unfortunate part of helping your child is that many times, your child will not talk about his or her depression. They may brush it off or try to change the subject, but if you know the signs, you can be pretty sure it’s there. To be absolutely positive that your child has depression, you should visit the pediatrician, physician, and even a counselor to help you determine the truth.
I hope this has helped you understand a bit more about your child, and I hope, if your child has depression, you can get them the help they need.
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