It is normal to experience highs and lows, and most of us get upset when we come across difficulties. While the negative feelings that accompany distressing events or situations are usually transitory, for some people, these feelings can last a long time and can become quite serious.
The term “depression” refers to a long period of time during which a person feels extremely unhappy to the point of experiencing feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and helplessness. Depression can be triggered by stress, a loss, or a traumatic event, although sometimes it seems to occur for no particular reason. Depression commonly affects all aspects of our lives, such as relationships and physical health, and can become increasingly debilitating if left untreated.
One fact about depression that is seldom addressed is that it is a disorder that does not only affect adults – it can affect children and teenagers as well, and is just as devastating for them as it is for us.
Symptoms of depression in children and teenagers
If your child is depressed, she/he is unlikely to talk to you about it, as she/he will probably assume that no one can understand how she/he feels. Thus, it is important to be sensitive to warning signs, which are usually best detected by changes in your child’s behavior. Some of the common signs of depression can occur when school, social or family pressures become too overwhelming. Some of the following symptoms might be indicative that your child is suffering from depression:
• Signs that your child is unhappy or feeling worried, guilty, angry, fearful, helpless, hopeless, lonely or rejected
• Headaches or other aches and pains
• Lack of energy, extreme fatigue, sleeping, eating and concentration disturbances
• Low self-esteem and self-destructive behavior
• Negative thoughts
• Social withdrawal
• Poor grades
• Lack of interest in activities that she/he normally enjoys
• Sudden outbursts of anger or tears
If you believe your child is depressed, you should seek professional help for your child as soon as possible. Know that depression is very treatable, and that children and teenagers can be helped to overcome depression with effective psychological treatment.
Take care of yourself as a parent of a child suffering from depression
It is also important to acknowledge your own feelings and experience as a parent of a child suffering from depression. Since it is not always known why children become depressed, you might find yourself experiencing feelings of guilt and frustration. It can be very difficult to handle the needs of a depressed child. As a parent, you could benefit from consulting a Montreal psychologist or Montreal therapist to learn how to cope with your own feelings concerning your child’s depression.