Like adults, children can suffer from depression, in this case: childhood depression. It’s not uncommon and since children actually are the purest of humans, it might be safe to say if a child is depressed-and they actually tell you that-it’s a rather serious issue.
One of the most common misconceptions about childhood depression is:”what do children have to be depressed about?”. Perhaps this reveals a few misunderstandings about childhood depression and what it is. It is indeed quite similar to clinical depression-borrowing from medical terminology and is not just down moods resulting from a child being ‘depressed’ cause they have just been punished or have been told they can’t have something. No, childhood depression is more intrusive into the child’s very existence, may be long-lasting and if not attended to life threatening.
Perhaps another misconception may have to do with us thinking, being a child is a care-free, trouble free stage of human life. Not necessarily, with peer acceptance, school and family expectations, it is enough to make a kid worry and could be a huge factor to be considered in regards to dealing with a case of childhood depression.
Other Causes of Childhood Depression:
1. Family History of Mental illness or suicide.
2. Abuse (physical, emotional or sexual)
3. Chronic illnesses.
4. Loss of a parent at an early age to death, divorce or abandonment.
5. Improper diet and lack of sufficient exercise.
6. Excessive exposure to negative factors such as parents arguing, bad neighborhoods etc
7. Insufficient parental attention.
Though this is not a conclusive list of the causes of depression in children, perhaps these factors are the most common ones.
Symptoms of Childhood Depression:
1. Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
2. Abrupt change in Appetite
3. Change in sleep patterns (either increase or decrease).
4. Difficulty concentrating.
5. Making depreciating statements like “I’m not good enough, I’m stupid…”
6. Persistent Sadness.
7. Recurring thoughts of Suicide
8. Excessive clinging or withdrawal
If you notice any of these in your child’s behaviour it may be time to seek help. But, keep in mind, the first step may be a good heart to heart talk with your child.
Reconnect with them. Make plans for a getaway saying things like “How about you and I go to the park, just the two of us eh?”. Now seize this time to carefully see what could be the problem.
Also, borrowing from Yoga principles (Natural Healing as well), now will be a good time to assess your entire families diet. Remember, “you are what you eat”. Diet plays, perhaps the most important role in one’s health, especially children in their growing stages so all efforts should be made to ‘pleasantly’ enforce a proper diet. You may not have to work too hard, most kids LOVE bananas and other sweet fruits and fresh juices. Vegetables…maybe not so much, but you get my gist. Try to replace processed foods with healthier ones.
Take time out to be there for your child or at least be conscious of who he or she is around the most. Remember children are wonderful imitators.
If you yourself happen to be depressed, I recommend drug-free alternatives such as Yoga, and the previously mentioned proper eating. Also, look into fasting albeit it short as this works wonders for restoring your emotional balance as result of the body not being taxed with the duties of digestion, assimilation and re-building. Your mind clears and all moroseness disappears and consequently, you tend to find the answers to the problems warranting a treatment for depression in the first place. Keep in mind though; this radical step is suited only for adults not necessarily for kids.
Devote thirty minutes or more a day for open air recreation for yourself and your family. Visits to the zoo, active play, and swimming tend to relieve tension created in the home, school, and work and this may go a long way in assisting in curing childhood depression in the family.
Make efforts yourself to be cheerful as much as possible as kids do mimic what their parents constantly do.
Finally, if you are of a spiritual inclination, try prayer power and introduce your child to it. Hey, the Man did say: “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.” I believe a child connected to God is one sure way of preventing childhood depression. (Of course with the factors previously mentioned.)
Parenting or being a role model to a child is a duty that may be tasking at times, even more say when dealing with a depressed child. However with the suggestions given, if tackled properly, childhood depression need not be a thing your kid has to go through.