Children are at an age wherein they throw tantrums often, and quite boisterously. This is why when there are any sudden mood changes, parents cannot identify it. It is difficult for parents to differentiate between depression with children and a random blue mood. Children also don’t act similarly to adults who are suffering from depression. Some children are found to have low productivity, energy, and sad mood, whereas others have an angry outburst and they are on a constant emotional roller coaster.
With their tantrums, physical, psychological, and hormonal changes, how is a parent to identify depression with children. Some parents often get worried about the possibility of depression and may stay ignorant. Some parents may want to help but don’t know what is a depression in children and how to cope with it. Some parents have honest communication and ask if their child is in trouble, but the child predictability always answers no. Hence, here I have listed some signs of depression and how parents can cope with it.
If your child has depression, then remember that it is curable with the correct method of help. Children in depression may have a few of these symptoms or just one glaring symptom. Read on, and you will find out what the signs of depression in children are and how to deal with the same.
Signs of depression with children:
1. Decreased interest
One of the common signs of depression is the lack of interest a child has in their favorite activity. They previously might enjoy painting and would color your walls with their crayons, but now they will not be interested in their favorite pastime. They will avoid indulging in it, and would not budge despite encouragement and persuasion.
2. Difficulty in the social relationship
When parents are looking for depression signs in children; they should realize that when their child is hurting, the people close to him or her will also hurt with your child. They will have difficulty in maintaining and initiating any social relationships with their peers. This is because they will not have the same energy as their peers and will opt out of the most fun activities and participation. They might also hurt their friend with their actions or words.
3. Cannot handle failure
Children with depression get sensitive to failure and rejection. Depression with it brings a feeling of worthlessness and makes the child question their choices, ability, and talents. They won’t be confident in themselves. If they are then faced with rejection or failure, it cements the thought in their mind and they find it difficult to accept and deal with it.
The relationship between depression and children is such that they will not find the idea of going to school, meeting their friends, and learning something new and something they would like. They might not have the strength or wish to get out of bed and get dressed for the same. They may tell you that they are sick, lie down in bed, and skip school. If their absence in school is frequent and if you also notice their grades going down, then it could be a sign of depression.
5. Physical symptoms
Often your child will complain of stomach ache and headache if they have an important test coming that they aren’t prepared for, or because they ate too many sweets. In these cases, the child has physical ailment because of what they feel and ate. In depression, they will often complain to you about pain in their body or other ailments without any physical cause.
One of the major signs of depression is crying, being sad, and having tears in the eyes frequently. If you notice that they are always sad, crying, or have tears in their eyes without any reason then it could be a sign of depression. The constant sadness is an obvious symptom of depression in children.
7. Low self-esteem
A common depression sign in children is their low self-esteem. They will not feel confident in their abilities and talents. They will always second guess themselves. You will often hear them saying “I can’t do this”, ”I will always fail”, “I am a loser”, etc. Their inner self will not beam with pride and confidence; rather shrivel up with uncertainty, hopelessness, and low self-esteem.
Not all children with depression react with sadness when they are depressed. Some children get irritated and frustrated quite easily. You will notice them getting frustrated over minute issues and their temper will flare quite often and they will snap at everyone. This will cause them to always be irritable. They will have an angry outburst, and may even harm others or themselves because of it.
When you are dealing with depression and children, especially amongst younger children, the tantrums will get intense and they will increase in intensity. What earlier use to be an adorable pout and crossing of hands will soon turn to shatter screams and throwing toys at you. Their increased tantrums are a result of the feeling of depression they are feeling inside which they cannot express.
Your child will have certain daily habits when it comes to eating and sleeping. The result of depression and children together are such that it will cause your child to have a drastic change in these habits. Either they will eat a lot or nothing. When it comes to sleep, either they will be insomniac or they will sleep in bed all day. These changes will be very sudden and quite drastic.
11. Negative thoughts
The children’s negative thoughts will lead them to the path of social isolation, suicidal thoughts, the constant fear of minute things, death anxiety, etc. They will feel as if they wish to run away from the dread they feel on the inside. This will cause them to lose their concentration while playing, studying, and working around the house doing their chores.
How to deal with depression with children?
When parents ask themselves how to deal with depression in children, the first thing that is obvious and most helpful is registering for therapy. Many psychologists help children with depression. The therapy sessions will involve both the parents and the child. Sometimes there will be individual sessions, and other times there will be a joint session as a family. The therapy will help your child and you to realize the cause of depression and the steps going ahead.
2. Emotional support
One of the best tactics for the child in depression is to provide them emotional support. As parents, they will rely on you to make them feel safe, protected, and cherished. Sit them down and have an honest conversation with them. Ask them what they are feeling, and how can you help them. When they open up to you, be the parent that provides them immense support.
If you wish to know how to cope with a child in depression, then exercising regularly makes the top suggestion. When your child will exercise, your child’s brain will release the hormone called serotonin, or what is called a happy hormone in lay man’s term. The more this hormone is released, the lesser the symptoms of depression. Encourage them to exercise daily. At first, they will hesitate and may not have the energy, but you can do it with them, and the better they feel, the more inclined they will be to working out.
4. Eating habits
What we eat is what is reflected in our mind and body. Eating healthy will make your child feel more energetic and fresh. Junk and oily food will make them feel lethargic and will lower their energy levels. When the fruits and fresh vegetables get their energy levels to shoot, it will help them to cope with the symptoms of depression.
5. Sleeping routine
Sleeping regularly is the most important coping activities for depression in children. When your child will not get enough sleep, they will be moody, cranky, feel tired, and be less motivated in general. Feeling these will not help them to cope with their symptoms of depression. A regular sleeping schedule will help them to wake up with a fresh mind that is ready for the day.
When your child will suffer from depression, their social relations might have also suffered. Encourage them to reconnect with them. Register them for some school activities, community service, visiting their friends, etc. Getting back to their regular life will be a helpful way for them to deal and cope with depression.
For parents as well as children, dealing with depression can be a hard time. But with support and love, you can face it together as a family. Usually, children always tell you what it is that they want, so, sit them down and ask them how can I help you, and they will clue you in.