Sadness in small children is not an unheard-of emotion since youngsters often get sad. However, the signs of childhood depression manifests itself when that sadness becomes a constant emotion. Even though many children have happy and normal childhoods, many of them still have a proclivity to being depressed. The general feeling that children cannot be depressed consequently leads to many youngsters not receiving professional help for their chronic depression.
In order to understand childhood depression, you must have a definition of depression in mind. Many people say, “I am so depressed” when they have a particularly disappointing or sad day, but there is a major distinction between these momentary, fleeting feelings of sadness and genuine clinical depression. Clinical depression is a continual, pervasive sense of sadness, dread, and anxiety. When left untreated, depression can lead to serious health issues and even thoughts of suicide.
There is a general feeling that children should be happy as long as all of their physical and emotional needs are tended to at home. But many people do not realize the daily struggles that children have outside of the home. The feeling of helplessness overtakes many children because they do not have the capabilities to understand the world around them. With the overwhelming need to please authority figures while at the same time fitting in with their peers, children have many internal struggles that may often lead them into a feeling of depression.
Depression, while exhibited as an emotional response, has a chemical cause that can and should be treated. While scientists have very limited understanding about the function of the brain, they do realize that certain chemicals can become imbalanced in the brain, leading to depression. The treatment for depression often involves medications and relaxation techniques that balance out these chemicals.
The most important thing a parent can do to help their child battle depression is to be aware of the risk their child faces and knowledgeable about the symptoms they might see in their children. Children who are depressed will have persistent feelings of sadness or be constantly irritable. They will often express or exhibit a low self-image. This is often exhibited in statements such as “I’m so dumb” that seem to come out of nowhere.
Children who are depressed will find it difficult to concentrate on their schoolwork or other responsibilities. They may lose sleep or begin to sleep too much. Their appetite will either increase or decrease dramatically. The same occurs in their level of activity.
Depressed children often exhibit physical symptoms, such as a persistent stomachache or headache that seems to have no trigger. Other changes in the child’s normal routine or behavior can be signs of depression. While the depression may be triggered by an obvious event, such as the death of a relative or sudden move, if the symptoms persist for an extended period of time, it becomes dangerous.
Parents who have a feeling that their child may be depressed should contact a doctor or other professional immediately. Contact your family doctor and ask if they have any knowledge of how to treat a child who is depressed. If they don’t, they can refer you to someone who has more experience with this situation. Treating your child for depression may involve medication along with intensive therapy. Being a concerned and aggressive parent can be a life-saving trait for your child to have a normal life.