By - Ms. Samindara Hardikar-Sawant (Clinical Psychologist)
Depression is a serious mental illness
which can also be observed in children. However, it should be treated
at right time. Read on to know more about the symptoms and treatments for depression in school going children.
A popular and intelligent student, Prachi always did well in school
and was liked by her teachers. However, when she came to class 6, her
performance dropped and she slowly started withdrawing from others and
did not seem interested in studies. Known for her neatness and
meticulous work, she started submitting incomplete and messy
worksheets. Gradually, she started isolating herself from her friends,
left her tiffin box untouched and seemed lost in her own thoughts...
Prachi was suffering from childhood depression. When told, her parents refused to accept it. How was that possible!
Depression? That too Prachi? Sadly, it is possible, and it is the
reality for many children like Prachi. Statistics show that about 2-3 %
of school going children suffer from clinical depression. Depression is a mental illness characterized by a persistent negative or sad mood and a loss of
interest in activities. There are several other symptoms, such as
changes in sleep patterns, changes in eating habits, feelings of
hopelessness and worthlessness, difficulty concentrating and so forth.
How do I recognize signs of depression in my child?
Depression may present itself differently in children
than in adults. Children are unable to express their negative feelings
verbally, and often, the depression manifests itself in one or more of
the following symptom:
and crying: All children throw tantrums from time to time, all children
are irritable and tearful at times. But check if this is happening more
often than usual and for a number of weeks.
Lowered academic performance: Typically, depressed students start doing poorly in school. As depression also has repercussions on concentration, memory as well as motivation, grades start falling.
Loss of interest in activities otherwise enjoyed by the child:
If a child shows disinterest in his or her favorite toys, activities,
games and so forth, for a considerable period of time.
Withdrawing from friends: Of course, many children are by
nature introverted and prefer to be by themselves. However, if a child
who is otherwise outgoing and sociable suddenly starts staying away
from or avoiding friends, its worth looking into.
Sleep problems: the child may become restless in his sleep, or
may suddenly wake up at night, or may find it difficult to go to sleep.
Appetite changes: A depressed child may either lose his appetite, or may start eating more.
Suicidal thoughts: In extreme cases, the child may start contemplating suicide.
How do I help my depressed child?
Both the family and the school
have to work collaboratively in order to help a depressed child. The
first step is to get the child assessed. Timely diagnosis and
intervention are crucial, as untreated depression can have devastating
effects on the child's self esteem, future psychological health as well as, in some cases, the safety of the child. This is where the role of the school psychologist or any other mental health professional becomes important.
Once a child has been diagnosed as suffering from depression, and its
severity assessed, a comprehensive treatment plan needs to be charted
out. Counseling and supportive psychotherapy can help the child cope
with the depression and associated symptoms. Family
therapy is also critical, as it helps the family handle the child
better, as well helping family members cope with the child's
depression. In instances where the depression is particularly severe,
medication may become necessary.
Childhood Depression: Some Indicators
Uncharacteristic anger or aggression
Timidity or fearfulness
Vague physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches and so forth.
Depression is a potentially serious mental illness that can have far reaching and at times devastating effects on our children. So if you notice your child showing signs of depression, if you find your usually bright student suddenly withdrawing into himself, please do bring it to the notice of your school counselor. With timely intervention, depression can be successfully treated.
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Discussion Forum - Recent Posts
What remedies do you follow to overcome depression? Can a school going child be affected by depression? What will you do to prevent depression in your school going child?
I have heard about this concept about childhood depression for the first time. Actually it is not acceptable that depression can be observed in small school going children. But yes, I have seen childr...
Immediate care is required to be taken for the children facing such disorder. Early treatment of the psychological problems in children like depression can help to avoid future complications. If child...
I just have to ask one question that is as followsâ€¦what should parents of school going children do to avoid such depression in them? If treatments for this problem are available, I am sure that ther...