Childhood depression: What You Can Do to Help Your Child

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It is normal for children to feel down, be cranky or think negatively at times, which is just a part of growing up but when the symptoms starts affecting their mental and physical health, their social interactions, and their lifestyle in general, it may be time to go for depression test and seek help since your kid maybe suffering from depression. Going by statistics, WHO states, one in every four children in the age group of 13-15, in India, suffers from depression. But again, depression can be treated with therapy and depression medicines more than 80% of the time. Here we bring you all that you may want to know about childhood depression.

Signs and Symptoms

Childhood depression is often left undiagnosed as it is hard to differentiate between normal emotional issues( of growing stages) and the actual symptoms of depression. Moreover, as parents, we find it almost unbelievable that our child could be depressed. But, if your child exhibits any of the following conditions for longer than two weeks, you should consult a doctor immediately:

  • Mood swings 
  • Difficulty in sleeping or concentrating 
  • Change in eating patterns 
  • Feeling sad, irritated, angry or hopeless most of the time
  • Withdrawal from favourite activities, friends or loved ones 
  • Low self-esteem
  • Having suicidal thoughts 
  • Impaired performance in schoolwork
 How you can help your child deal with Depression

Where the first stage is obviously seeking professional help—counsellor, child psychologist, psychiatrist—there are some pointers to keep in mind when dealing with a depressed child. Read here:

  1. Don’t blame yourself or your child:

Realising the fact that this is neither your child’s fault nor yours, will make both of you focus on resolving the causes of her pain instead of succumbing to it. Your assurance will give her strength to fight it in a positive way.

  1. Don’t panic

It is often hard for parents to accept that their child is suffering from some mental condition. As long as your child has your support and is under the supervision of a good doctor, she is very likely to recover. On the other hand, if the child feels that she is the reason for her parents’ anxiety, it will worsen the situation. So, be patient. If you feel that you need help to cope with the situation, you can try individual therapy or family counselling.

  1. Read about depression

Educate yourself about depression, its symptoms, causes, and treatment from reliable sources. Educate your child as well. It will encourage her to understand that her condition is not something new and that she is not alone in it and that by being co-operative during treatment she will be able to overcome it. 

  1. Reassure your child that it’s okay to be depressed

Children tend to hide things from parents that they think will upset them. Make it clear to your child that you want to help and can’t see her suffering and together both of you strongly can deal with the issue. 

  1. Talk to her frequently with support and love

Talk to your child about her feelings and the things happening at home and at school. Discreetly prompt her to confide in you if something is bothering her. Try to spend as much time as possible with your kid. When someone is depressed, talking is often the last thing they want to do. Create a positive environment for your child to talk, like taking a walk or preparing a meal together.

  1. Encourage your child to enter therapy and take charge of her treatment

Make sure that her doctor is knowledgeable, understanding and someone who really listens. Ensure that your kid follows doctor’s instructions and takes the prescribed medication. A child with such condition is less likely to be willing to follow doctor’s prescriptions. You may have to be tough and persistent, but treatment, either medication or therapy or both, is the only thing that will make any difference.

  1. Don’t be afraid of the “S” word

You may be afraid to ask your child if she is having suicidal thoughts, but it’s very important talk about it. It may be a big relief to give vent to her emotions in case she has ever contemplated suicide. The openness of the discussion will ensure that she confides to you each time she harbours such thoughts. 

  1. Be Positive :

Create a positive and active environment for your child :

  • Get her involved in various physical and creative activities. 
  • Focus on her strengths. Encourage and appreciate her work.
  • Break down problems or tasks into smaller steps so that your child can achieve them.

It is hard to even imagine that a child, who should be bouncing with life and joy, can be depressed, but it is this reluctance to accept the illness and the unawareness around it that is causing our children so much pain. So, let’s rally around our kids and try and deal with Depression together.