Depression is a frequent and severe mental disorder that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. According to WHO (The World Health Organization), found that globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression. They also state that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. All in all, it’s a serious health problem around the world that impacts every aspect of someone’s life.
Symptoms That Your Child May Be Experiencing Due to Depression
Many people feel sadness and other emotions related to depression. However, this doesn’t mean that you are suffering from a mental illness. Things like grief, loss or any other sad, emotional events that happen in your life result in normal, short-term emotions. Depression on the other hand, is a long-term illness, especially if it’s not treated. It has many different signs and symptoms. These are
- Sadness or hopelessness: Those who suffer from depression may feel emptiness, hopelessness and sadness. This feeling is a sign of melancholic depression.
- Irritability, anger, or hostility: Someone who suffers from depression may feel hostile, easily frustrated, or prone to anger outbursts.
- Tearfulness or frequent crying: Depression can cause people to cry frequently and without reasoning.
- Withdrawal from friends and family: Children and teens are generally very sociable. However, if they are suffering from a mental illness like depression they tend to stray away from socializing. Even from their parents and other family members
- Loss of interest in activities: Anhedonia, is one of the main types of major depressive disorder (MDD). This refers to the loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities. People experiencing clinical depression lose interest in hobbies, friends and school.
- Poor school performance: Problems at school may occur. Depression can cause low energy and triggers to have difficulty in concentration. This may result in poor attendance, failing in classes and grades, or frustration with schoolwork for a former good and responsible student.
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits: Depression is a severe condition that can cause lack of sleep and a loss of appetite too.
- Restlessness and agitation: Depression may lead to a feeling of excitement or a state of chronic restlessness and increased psychomotor activity.
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt: People with depressive disorders often experience excessive guilt. Their conscience blows things out of proportion with no reason. This triggers them to feel guilty and regretful. These emotions usually go with low self-esteem and feelings of unworthy.
- Lack of enthusiasm and motivation: Lacking enthusiasm is a symptom of a more significant problem with depression. This condition is frequently treated with a combination of medications and talk-based therapy.
- Fatigue or lack of energy-: Depression doesn’t cause chronic fatigue syndrome, it can actually cause increased fatigue. A lot of people with chronic fatigue syndrome have sleep disorders. When people feel tired or exhausted, they may tend to have a low-energy to do their daily activities.
- Difficulty concentrating: If you have a sleeping disorder, lack of sleep can cause some of the same signs as depression such as extreme tiredness or fatigue, low-energy and difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
- Unexplained aches and pains: Physical ailments such as headaches or stomach aches are symptoms of depression. It does not reveal a medical cause during a physical exam, and these may indicate depression.
- Extreme sensitivity to criticism: The feelings of being not worthy is common with people who are feeling depressed. They may feel extremely helpless to criticism, rejection and failure.
- Thoughts of death and/or suicide: A report of over 800 000 people die due to suicide annually. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. This is the biggest concern. If you feel that your child is having suicidal thoughts, contact the American Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255.
How Can I Help My Child Who Is Suffering from Depression?
- Focus on listening, not lecturing: When your child is reaching out for help, don’t make any interruptions and avoid any criticism towards your child. Remember that your goal is to communicate with them. Communication isn’t just talking, it requires listening with intent and calm, relaxed body languages. This is key for them to trust you. If they feel that they cannot trust you they won’t be so open with their feelings and concerns.
- Be gentle but persistent: If they resist talking to you, don’t give up. This serves as a challenge. Be patient. Your child may have a hard time expressing what they feel. Show your willingness to listen but be respectful if your child is not yet ready to open up with you.
- Acknowledge their feelings: Simply acknowledging the pain and sadness they are going through can make them feel understood and supported. Inform them that they aren’t alone and that they will always have you to support them.
- Trust your gut: If they keep on insisting that nothing is wrong but still keep on showing the signs that they are depressed, trust your instincts. Consult a trusted third party like a school counsellor, their favourite teacher or a mental health professional like a psychiatrist or therapist. If they are not willing to speak to you don’t take it personally. The important thing is to get them to have a conversation about their emotions with a trusted individual.
The Risk of Medications
Antidepressants are medications that can help relieve symptoms of:
- Social anxiety disorder
- Other anxiety disorders
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Dysthymia, or mild chronic depression
- As well as other mental conditions
It is also known to increase the chance of suicidal thinking and behaviours in children, teenagers and young adults. This is due to the fact that their brains are not yet fully developed. During the first two months of antidepressant treatment, the risk of suicide is at its highest. Children and teenagers on antidepressants should be carefully monitored for any sign that the depression is getting worse. When in doubt opt for a more natural treatment approach. CBD oil is an all natural, non-psychoactive drug that can be used to treat many ailments including depression.
If you feel that your child is showing more than one of the signs, symptoms or warning signs in the list above, then you should pay extra attention and care towards your child. If this is the case it’s best to seek medical, professional help and ask them for advice. They could inform you on the best ways to approach your child.