Children aren’t always going to run around and play. Sometimes, they are going to get sad. While it may be troubling to see your child experiencing sadness, this is normal and doesn’t mean your child is depressed. If the sadness lasts a long time, however, or if this sadness disrupts normal activities, your child may be depressed. If so, you can treat the condition.
Sometimes, a depressed child acts sad, similar to the way adults act when they are sad. A depressed child feels hopelessness and experiences mood changes. Some children also mask their sadness by acting out and being angry. Other signs that your child may be depressed are social withdrawal, sensitivity to rejection, increased or decreased appetite, excessive or restless sleep, crying, difficulty concentrating, low energy and frequent stomachaches or headaches. If your child is depressed, you may notice he doesn’t function well during home or extracurricular activities. He may feel worthless and speak of death or suicide.
More About Symptoms
A child doesn’t have to have all the symptoms of depression to be depressed. A depressed child usually exhibits six or more symptoms that last for weeks or months, according to Medical News Today. Most symptoms come and go at various times, according to WebMD. Usually, though, a depressed child does poorly in school and in social activities. A depressed child may have a change in appearance. Children, who are older than 12, may begin using drugs or alcohol.
Depression is serious, and some children attempt suicide. This is rare for children younger than 12. If you have a family history of violence, alcohol abuse, sexual or physical abuse, your child has a greater risk for suicide. Suicidal behavior includes talking about suicide or of being helpless, sexual or behavioral acting out, risk-taking behavior, frequent accidents, focus on morbidity, talk of death and giving away possessions.
Some children are depressed because of a chemical imbalance in their brain. This can be a genetic condition. Certain events can also trigger depression. A death in the family, a divorce, physical illness or abuse can cause depression. Other causes are not being able to adjust to a move, changing schools, the death of a pet, a sick family member or hormonal changes during puberty.
Depression is not something that just goes away. Your child needs treatment from a trained professional. If you or your partner has a history of depression, your child is at greater risk of developing depression, too. Monitor your child for two weeks. If symptoms persist during that time, schedule an appointment with your doctor to first rule out any physical reasons. Once ruled out, consult with a mental health professional. Many specialize in helping children. Treatment often consists of psychotherapy and medication. Once you understand and treat your child, your child can grow to be a healthy adult.