We commonly associate depression with adults. But children too can be victims of very serious depression. What seems to be unfortunate is the fact that many normal parents are unaware of the impacts of depression on their children and many of them are not aware that children can get depressed in the first place.
Depression in children can have severe repercussions if not diagnosed at the proper time. They can even lead to suicidal attempts and other violent behavioural manifestations that could turn unacceptable in the society. Every parent must know the importance of diagnosing childhood depression at an early stage and nip it in the bud. This is especially important for families who have a genetic tendency towards mental disorders.
Here are certain tendencies to watch out for if you suspect a certain untoward behaviour in your child. It is important to identify the symptoms of childhood depression early on to give effective treatment.
Signs Of Depression in Children
Children With Depression Have Difficulty Falling Asleep
Like adults, children too find it difficult to sleep when faced with depressive symptoms. Children with depression would have sleep deprivation albeit differently. If your child displays fear when left alone for sleep or cries inconsolably at night, he/she could be facing depression.
He could be scared to sleep alone as well and might have a fear of darkness in most cases. If these symptoms persist, comfort him and try to open him up through gentle coaxing. If he does not budge, it is important to seek psychiatric help.
Refusal to Eat Could be a Sign of Depression
More often than not, mental trauma and depression in kids surface as an unwillingness to eat or change in eating patterns. Even food that your kid loves could seem wasted in front of them. At times depression could surface as overeating or a difficulty in controlling eating. Unnatural behaviour like hoarding food items should be associated with possible depression in your child.
Talk to the child and see if he/she confides in you as to the reason for the depression. You could also try to bring in his best buddy in order to open him up. If everything fails, you know what to do!
Bedwetting in Children Could be a Sign of Depression
Many a time, bedwetting in children is dealt with in a strict manner with parents trying to instil manners in their kids and rebuking them when they fail to learn. Bedwetting due to depression is a psychological reaction to what is going on in their mind.
Parents must be alert enough to understand its significance and stop being accusative towards the child. Being accusative can make matters worse and even lead to suicide if it is an older child. The child needs your empathy here, failing which he could end his life. As parents, our moral responsibility demands that we be there for them through thick and thin.
Violent Outbursts Should be Carefully Analysed
Kids are normally sweet and carefree. For many of them, anger is superficial and does not last for long. But for kids who are depressed, there would be violent bursts of anger even for small things. It. could manifest itself as throwing and breaking things, unnatural anger towards friends and loved ones and distancing himself from everyone.
Strange Behaviour Could Mean that a Child is Depressed
A child who normally loves to go to school suddenly protests and shows an aversion, refusing to play and interact, crying and fighting for no reason, fighting with other children and bullying them unnecessarily could be warning signals that point towards possible cause of depression.
Kids could also start stealing and taking things which may be expensive or inexpensive. These symptoms should be carefully monitored before confronting the child. It could also be an attention seeking behaviour when the child feels that he/she is not getting enough attention from the parents or peers.
Bouts of Sadness in Your Child Could Point to Depression
A happy go lucky child suddenly turning sad and full of misery could be a dangerous sign that cannot be ignored. If you kid starts loathing himself and shows a tendency towards self destruction or self contempt, be very gentle on him instead of admonishing him.
Assess the situation carefully and analyse if it is anything to do with your behaviour or behaviour of any other family member that is causing the depression. Try to talk to him and bring out the reason from him. If he does not confide in you, seek the help of a counsellor or a child psychiatrist.
Talking About Death Could be the Final Warning
The final and most important warning signal of depression to look out for are talking about death, fascination for things that relate to death, suicide, talking about or unnatural curiosity towards death and what could lead to death. Many parents dismiss such talks as childish and as a desire to quench their natural curiosity. They fail to see through their child and as a result lose them.
If you have children who show any of these symptoms, ensure that you do not give them any more stress than they are already facing. Behave well and show more care and concern towards them. Always keep an eye and ear open if you suspect that something is amiss with your child.
It is important to watch your child for a few days before you decide on the course of action. Some kids could just be angry or sad due to a small reason which could pass off in a matter of 2-3 days.
But if symptoms persist, always make it a point to check with their friends, teachers and others who deal with them closely and find out if they have noticed the same symptoms as well and find that something is really wrong. Make sure that you are available for your child during this phase and be a good listener without being judgemental. Treat him like a friend and be ready to hear the worst of confessions with an open mind and straight face!
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