What You Need To Know About Kids And Depression
It is natural for kids to experience emotional ups and downs just like adults. They, like us, have good days and bad days, positive thoughts and negative ones. But when these feelings and thoughts stick around for a long time, it may in fact be depression.
The number of children with depression and anxiety is increasing, especially with the onset of quarantine. Currently 4% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 have a current diagnosis of depression – and those are just the reported cases…
What Is Depression?
Depression is a type of mood disorder causing deep sadness, erratic behaviors, possible harming of oneself and even suicide. You can read more about depression here. In children, the main signs of depression are when they are sad, irritable, have constant negative thoughts/self-talk or are discouraged for weeks, months or even longer. But given that depression is unique to each person, the biggest sign is a drastic change in behaviors – whatever that means for your child. They suddenly are not the person you thought you knew.
Kids who are depressed often will focus on problems and faults instead of solutions, being incredibly critical on both self and world and will be constantly complaining. They loose interest in pretty much everything they used to like for activities and school, they are more tired and give up very easily when asked to complete a task. You will notice they are becoming withdrawn from their friends and close family members. Depression interferes with their energy, concentration, sleep and appetite.
When kids have depression, much like adults, it is very hard for them to make an effort to complete or do things even if they used to love doing it. They will feel worthless, rejected or unlovable, making everyday issues harder for them to deal with, sometimes leading to self-harm just to ‘feel’ or even the extreme act of suicide.
Symptoms of Depression in Kids
The following is a list of possible symptoms of depression in children. Most children show different symptoms at different times and in different settings. Though some do well in structured environments, some kids with severe depression will have noticeable changes in social activities, loss of interest in their favorite things, grades will drop, and a change in appearance happens. They could possibly turn to drugs or alcohol if over the age of 12. If any of this resonates with you and has been going on for more than 2 weeks, it is time to call their doctor.
- Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Crankiness or easily angered
- Social withdrawal
- Very sensitive to rejection
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep habits
- Having outbursts or crying uncontrollably
- Trouble concentrating
- Tired and very low energy all the time
- Physical complaints – headache, stomach ache, aches and pains
- Trouble socializing
- Impaired negative thinking
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Thoughts of death or suicide or hurting oneself
How Is Depression Diagnosed In Kids?
If any of these symptoms have been present in your child for more than 2 weeks, it is time to schedule an appointment with their primary care doctor to make sure there is no physical reason for these symptoms. They will be able to refer you from there on the best course of action for your child.
Depression is completely treatable, in children and adults. Being aware, present, conscious and understanding with your children as they grow is the best way to stay on top of their mental health. Traveling is a great way to help reset and heal from depression and trauma for both kids and adults. Planning even small day trips with your child can build confidence and resolve – you can read more on that here.
Keeping the conversation going, helping them feel comfortable to talk to you about anything will benefit both of your mental health’s as life happens, and can be a hard journey to navigate on your own.
Malibu Mama Loves Xx