Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.
Also called a major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think, and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Proper diagnosis and early treatment are key to helping a depression sufferer from turning their lives around
Depression not only affects adults but affects children and teenagers too. It is therefore important to seek help if you think your child could be suffering from depression.
Here are some of the more common symptoms to look out for in your child’s life which may be an indication of depression or a similar disorder. Please always seek professional advice for a full diagnosis and proper treatment.
Mentalhealth SA lists the following common signs of depression among children:
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Irritability, anger, or hostility
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Restlessness and agitation
- The feeling of worthlessness and guilt
- Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts or talk of death or suicide
- Suffer major changes in weight
Factors which may increase the risk of depression in children include but are not limited to:
14. Family difficulties (an example, parents divorcing, death in the family)
16. Physical, emotional or sexual abuse
17. A family history of depression or other mental health problems
18. Peer pressure
If you think your child is depressed, talk to them, and find out what is it that is troubling them. You may feel it’s not a big deal, but to them it is.
If they are unwilling to open up to you, encourage them to talk to someone else they trust, such as another family member, a friend, a guidance counsellor or a teacher.
You could also contact their school to ask if the teachers have any concerns. If all else fails, seek professional help. There are numerous organisations and professionals who are in a position to assist.
The most important thing is to not ignore the warning signs and to do nothing about the situation. Your child’s welfare, mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as future, are critically important.
Know your child and step in if you think your child is in need.