Depression Can Affect Children As Well
Many of us would feel that this is just a child, how can he/she be depressed? Perhaps it’s just a mood swing or a phase. Yes, that happens too. Not every child who seems sad or introverted is depressed. But if you notice a significant change in your child’s behavior, which he just doesn’t seem to be ‘getting over’ and is adversely impacting his school work and/or relationships, perhaps it’s time to pay attention.
While the basic understanding of depression remains the same, the symptoms may manifest a little differently in children. Children do not understand or express emotions like adults too. While it is easy for us to be concerned about sadness or crying, it may be relatively difficult to be empathic when the child is being “difficult” instead. The internal discomfort the child feels might get expressed in anger, irritability, clinginess, tantrums, fears, crying, lethargy or aches and pains. Changes in sleep and appetite are also warning signs.
The Changes You See May Involve:
–The child may seem withdrawn and avoid being around people. Your friendly prankster might suddenly refuse to even greet or go near guests.
–Food habits may change with an increase or decrease in appetite or excessive fussiness about choice of food.
–Sleep may get disturbed with the child sleeping too much or too little or waking up multiple times in the night.
–The otherwise bright and smart child might have difficulties with concentration and seem lost, distracted or confused. Academic performance may decline.
–He may suddenly lose interest in his favorite activities and just not care about his video game or cricket match.
–Might avoid friends or pick up fights with them for no reason.
–Frequent stomach aches and headaches, with no underlying medical reasons
–Low frustration tolerance. He might get angry and even violent at the slightest of provocation. Tantrums, disobedience, stubbornness and lack of cooperation are also possible.
–Crying spells and emotional over-sensitivity
–The seemingly hyperactive road runner may just lie around in the house doing nothing.
–Attention seeking and clinginess.
Some or most of the above symptoms might be present. The need to see a mental health professional or a psychologist/counselor. Treatment should be decided by the severity and intensity of the symptoms and whether the symptoms are affecting the child’s daily life and his interactions with others.
Post contributed by: Mahima Gupta (Psychologist, Inner Space, 2010-2012)