Childhood depression is a real, unnoticed illness which is now spreading at a rapid rate. Depression in children is often characterized as Mood Swings, a vital part of growing up. In addition, children do not know how to express their emotions, and cannot put into words what they are feeling. These unwanted feelings and emotions often come out as frustration of some kind, with them throwing tantrums, difficulty sleeping, and talking about deep and dark subjects.
Childhood depression – Problematic
Most of the time, these children are termed as ‘Problematic’ and are meted out punishment as such. However, it is of utmost importance that you, as a parent, understand your children. You need to know if your children are just being ‘Problematic’, or is there actually a deep underlying issue that needs to be addressed. To do that, however, you need to be open to the idea of how mental health affects your young ones, something that is still not mainstream with child depression. However, a child may experience “blues” due to problems with school. That is not a depressive episode. If the blues last over two weeks, it’s time to take matters in your hands.
Problems at School stemming from childhood depression
Problems at school are a major indicator in identifying your child’s mental state. However, most children have some sort of problems at school.
- The problems arise with declining grades, a lack of participation in athletics, clubs, and other extra-curricular activities.
- Children who are depressed have difficulties in concentrating, cannot pay attention in school, and somehow, their ability to make coherent decisions is severely hampered.
- At a major level, children may even refuse to attend school or college. Furthermore, they may be having issues with making new friends.
- They have difficulties introducing themselves to new people, and may appear awkward.
- It is probable that they are made fun of by their peers, and this can thus further damage their self-esteem, and spiral them further into depression.
It is important to keep in touch with your child’s friends, so that they can tell you if something seems wrong, and you can then decide the way forward with your child.
Extreme Mood Swings due to childhood depression
Mood swings in children are manifested by sudden and extreme irritability, moodiness, and anger. Usually children undergoing severe mental stress or trauma break down and start crying at the least sign of a trigger. They are unstable and unpredictable, and lash out at all times. Furthermore, they would want to stay alone, and do not react positively to signs of love and affections. Kids, suffering from childhood depression, are withdrawn, and not prone to sharing their feelings with their parents. Sometimes, they will randomly want to stop talking to you and retire to their bedrooms.
Generally, that is okay. Some children are introverts, and do not like company for too long. However, children with depression tend to lock themselves in their rooms. They would not also like leaving the house, and are scared of meeting with new people. They may be feeling like the world is out to get them, and are likely scared of going outside their comfort zone.
Complaints of Aches and Pains
A child suffering from depression will often complain of pains, aches, and other discomforts in their body, of which there will be neither an apparent cause, nor a visible mark. Children do not understand why they feel the way they do, and this feeling manifests itself through various aches in the body. Otherwise, they will just complain of being sick, or perhaps just a general sense of unease, without anything actually seemingly wrong with them.
If your child constantly complains of a stomach ache, headache, or backache, which do not respond to treatment, it might be time to consider the fact that their issues may not be simply physical, but there must be some underlying mental issue that needs to come to the forefront, and be able to address these issues without hesitation, or any fear of judgment. If depression is an issue, these complaints will disappear once they start therapy, and understand their problem.
Feelings of Sorrow, Guilt, and Worthlessness
One of the major signs in depression is a deep, underlying, inexplicable sadness that children cannot recognize. On the surface, there will be no reason for them to feel this way. However, these feelings that they have also cause them to feel worthless, sad, and unwanted. They may either think about self-harm or killing themselves, or in extreme cases, may even attempt to do so.
According to recent studies, boys are likely to be more successful in committing suicide as compared to girls, but girls are more likely to self-harm. For children dealing with depression, failure of any kind is not an easy thing to deal with. They feel that they have failed the ones who put hope in them, and their fragile minds cannot bear this. For such children, converting their mental pain into something is not only cathartic, it helps them cope with the pain better, and lessen the burden inside them.
You do not Recognize Who They are Anymore
Your child becomes a stranger to you. They stop opening up to you, and do not welcome you in their world anymore. They seem to withdraw, irritable, and snap at you if you try to talk to them. Most of the times you might misunderstand it as a part of growing up, and oftentimes, it is true. However, if these problems persist for more than a fortnight, then it is time for you to investigate, and take matters in your own hands. Children suffering from depression, become like strangers to you. They stop partaking in activities that make them who they are. If your child likes singing, and do not fill the house with their melodies anymore, it might be time to take action.
If you, as a parent, do not understand and recognize these symptoms early on, and tackle the issues straight up, then you might miss out on what will be the best parts of seeing your child grow up.