Childhood Depression ?
Q: your child does not fall into any of these categories? Does
this guarantee a child free from depression? The answer is no. A very
important factor in childhood depression is that it may be a
biologically based illness. Children with an inherited tendency for
depression will be highly susceptible to the strains caused by the need
for peer acceptance.
A:In order to recognize when a child is depressed, it is important to become aware of the symptoms and the signs to look for. Because children are not as articulate as adults in expressing their emotions, it is unlikely that they will come to us and say "I'm depressed" as an adult might do. In fact, they may not even realize themselves that something is out of the ordinary. Children live in a world controlled by adults and can easily feel powerless over what is happening to them. This puts the responsibility upon us as adults to look for signs of trouble and help children cope. The warning signs of depression fall basically into four different categories: emotional signs, cognitive signs (those involving thinking), physical complaints, and behavioral changes. Not every child who is depressed experiences every symptom. Depending upon the degree of depression, they may experience a few symptoms or many. Also, severity of each symptom may vary. Depression brings on feelings of deep sadness. The child may feel despondent and hopeless. They may cry easily. Some children will hide their tears by becoming withdrawn from other children for fear of being made fun of. Loss of pleasure or interest - Children with depression lose interest in activities that once brought them pleasure. Experiencing pleasure is increasingly difficult. A child who has always enjoyed playing sports, for example, may suddenly decide to not try out for the team this year. They may complain of feeling "bored" or reject an offer to participate in an activity, which they've always enjoyed in the past. The child may become anxious, tense, and panicky. The source of their anxiety may well give you a clue to what's causing their depression. A child who suddenly begins to have anxiety attacks about attending school may be experiencing some sort of problems at school, which they desperately wish to avoid. The child may feel worried and irritable. They may brood or lash out in anger as a result of the distress they are feeling. While this may seem on the surface to be a behavioral problem, it is really a symptom of an underlying emotional problem. A depressive mood can bring on negative, self-defeating thoughts. These skewed thought processes may help perpetuate the problem because they make the child resistant to words of encouragement or advice. Telling them that they should "just snap out of it" will probably be unsuccessful. Once the depression lifts, the child will be much more receptive to help. Talk to your child about how he's feeling. As you talk with him, be non-judgmental. Reassure him that while he may be thinking many bad things about himself, you love him and value him. If you have depression, let him know that you have the same illness. Explain to him on his level what it is that causes him to feel so sad. Depending upon your child's educational level, you can both allow him to read on his own or read yourself and then explain to him the mechanics of depression. KidsHealth.Org is an excellent educational site for both parent and child. Articles such as "The Brain is the Boss", "What Medicines Are and How They Work", and "Why Am I So Sad?" will help children to see that there are reasons for they way they feel, and there are ways to get better.
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