Depression is a mood disorder that can make an individual feel sad, hopeless, and irritable. Depression can occur to anyone and therefore it is natural for children to experience the same as adults do. Feelings of ups and downs are common to go through in daily life. Whereas childhood depression is different from feeling ‘blues’. A child may go through a prolonged feeling of sadness, excluding themself from socialising and showing signs of being low in energy. As depression is a serious illness, remember that it is also a treatable one.
Psychologist Shipra Lamba explains “Exact reasons for the illnesses are not known but it can happen due to a combination of different factors.” Some of the reasons are shared below as told by Shipra:
A child’s physical health can be one of the prominent reasons. If the kid is having any disability they can not enjoy the moments like other kids and it can affect them.
Another reason could be Stressful events, environment, family history, genes, and biochemical imbalances.
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Chronic and serious medical conditions such as obesity, childhood diabetes and heart problems can restrict a child from enjoying the most cherished part of their lives and affect their mental health.
Family disputes can also cause invisible scars on a child's heart. Events such as divorce in the family, regular fights at home, bullying, Physical abuse, change of city or school, being away from friends can be overwhelming for a child to accept and process.
Mood disorders can be the result of learned behaviour if there is a family member who has/had a mood disorder and there can be a genetic component at play also.
Apart from these causes, an imbalance in the levels of certain hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin or norepinephrine can lay a foundation for mood disorders by impacting the functioning of the brain.
Symptoms of depression can vary from child to child. There are some signs like sadness, low energy and less interest that can be easily visible. Although illnesses like depression can also have some hidden signs which we ignore as psychological or emotional changes. Here are some of them.
Shipra said, “Mood disorders can show up with behavioural problems at home and school, low concentration, and performance issues at school in children. Also, there could be drastic changes in eating and sleeping patterns. The constant emotional outburst, such as crying on less important issues” She said.
Another sign parents can neglect by recognising/her child as moody is decreased interest in the activities that the child used to enjoy earlier.
Feelings of sadness and hopelessness, self-criticism, feelings of guilt or shame, decreased energy levels, talking about dying, irritability most of the time, and social isolation are the other symptoms.
When you notice these symptoms for a longer period, consult a psychologist and reach out for help. Other than the medical treatment, the parent or guardian has to look after the kid by remembering the following points.
Loved ones are the biggest supporters in difficult times and so are parents to their kids. Shipra says, “Family members play a critical role in the recovery process.”
“Parents should have to examine their styles of handling conflicts and emotional issues in the family as children imitate them always. As the saying goes, parents are children’s first teachers. Hence providing good role models can help by providing efficient ways to express emotions and deal with problems.” she added.
Heart-to-heart communication is the biggest healer. Talking to the child about their emotions without judging them can help a lot. Encourage them to open conversations. Listen to them carefully and be empathetic towards the child’s struggles.
Help them feel secure and protected during their difficult times. Always talking about the support is not enough. You can take help from different activities. Art, cooking, playing games to help the child to engage with you can help a lot.
One has to look after the solution-oriented appropriate actions as per the situation that can bring new changes and form new perceptions.