The statistics around childhood depression are concerning. As per WHO, one in every four children in the age group of 13-15, in India, suffers from depression. But it can be treated with therapy and depression medicines more than 80% of the time.
How is it different from growing up blues?
It is normal for children of any age to feel down, be cranky or think negatively at times–all a part of growing up but when the symptoms start to affect their mental and physical health, social interactions, and lifestyle in general, it may be time to go for depression test and seek help since your kid maybe suffering from depression. Incidentally, childhood depression can affect children of any age.
Symptoms and early warning signs
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
One in every four children in the age group of 13-15, in India, suffers from childhood depressionWorld Health Organization
How you can help your child deal with Depression
Where the first stage is obviously seeking professional help—counsellor, child psychologist, psychiatrist. Besides here are some more suggestions which will aid the treatment of childhood depression. We also bring you some tips, and come coping tips at home that you can use.
- Don’t blame yourself or your child:
Realizing 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.
- 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 yourself need help to cope with the situation, you can go in got therapy or family counselling.
Increase your awareness. Read about depression
Educate yourself about childhood depression, its symptoms, causes, and treatment. 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. She will understand that by being co-operative during treatment she will be able to overcome it.
- 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. Assure her that together both of you strongly can deal with the issue.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 for her to vent out 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.
- 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.