Depression is not something that affects only adults. Increasingly more and more children and teenagers are becoming victims of depression.
Although people often say that childhood is the happiest time of one's life, this hackneyed statement is not necessarily true. Yes, we didn't have many responsibilities when we were children, but we didn't have much freedom either. We may not have had job or financial worries, but how many of us stayed up nights worrying about our grades? How many of us had nightmares that we had failed in our exams? How many of us were teased at school? How many of us worried about peer acceptance or did things we didn't really want to because of peer pressure? Yes, childhood is great, as is every other stage in life, but it is certainly not worry-free! We all had our share of fights with friends, our share of sadness and shed tears more often than we can remember. No one, no matter how old, how rich or how successful, is immune to sadness. Everybody hurts. And for this reason, everyone is susceptible to depression.
Not many people are aware that something like childhood depression even exists, since everyone assumes that children have nothing to worry about. This is a pity, considering that there is so much a parent can do to ensure a happier childhood for their child.
In addition, depression in children is different from depression in adults, which is why it often goes unnoticed. And then when a seemingly normal teenager takes his life, his parents are devastated and wonder if they could have done anything to prevent the suicide.
Although suicides are not very common, children increasingly suffer from mild depression. So although they are not depressed enough to take their lives, they are certainly not happy.
A number of reasons can cause depression. There could be a trigger, such as loss of a parent or sibling, there could be a history of depression in the family, or it could manifest from other events. Since depression has numerous, unidentifiable causes, it is more important to concentrate on identifying depression and getting it treated.
Some symptoms include:
Mood swings Difficulty in sleeping Anger, temper tantrums, rage Difficulty eating Sadness Loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed Irritability
Many of these symptoms are common in many children. What you need to look out for is if any of these symptoms are a recent occurrence. In fact, any unexplained change in your child's behavior is something you need to look into. Your child's depression may last for a short while and go away with time, but it would be best if you could work your child through this period and give him your support.
The first thing you should do is to have a talk with your child. Make sure you are a friend to your child, so if he has a problem he can come and confide in you. Don't be a parent your child is scared of - be a parent your child finds comfort in.
After having a talk with your child, if you feel the problem runs deeper, take him to the school psychologist for guidance. Your child may speak more freely with the school psychologist than with you. Let your child know that the conversations he has with the psychologist are completely confidential. The psychologist in turn will guide you on how to best deal with your child, without revealing the conversations.
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- The Indiaparenting Team