You’ve noticed a few signs that you’re child may be depressed. They’ve distanced themselves from you, they have random and unexpected temper tantrums, they don’t want to leave the house and socialize with their friends. As a parent, you want to do all you can to ensure the happiness and well-being of your child. At the same time, I’m sure it is painful to see a child who should be living a joyful, carefree life, dealing with such an unfortunate and draining disorder.
Let me emphasize that last point: depression is a serious illness. In fact, nearly 2 million children and adolescents between the ages of 2-17 in the U.S. have been diagnosed with depression. It is much bigger than a series of "bad days" or mood swings. If you notice this behavior in your child and if it persists, it should taken seriously and immediately addressed by a health professional.
Key signs that your child may be depressed
Here are just a few signs that your child may be experiencing depression.
1. Persistent Sadness
If you notice unending sadness in your child/adolescent, it may be time to schedule a visit with a health professional. According to Everyday Health, if a child’s sadness persists for longer than two weeks, it is time to take some action. Some children may not openly express their feelings to you, the parent. The site also suggests getting to know your child’s friends. If he or she is not talking to you about their feelings, most likely their friends are noticing their behavior…even if your child isn't talking to them about it!
2. Excessive Drowsiness/Decrease in Alertness
Talk to your child’s teacher if you suspect they may be battling depression. He or she will notice a change in behavior just as you have. A common symptom of depression is increased drowsiness. Grades may be declining, they may not be as active in the extra curricular activities that they are apart of.
3. Trouble Organizing Thoughts
Many people who are depressed, (and I can also speak from experience, as I’ve suffered with depression) have a very hard time concentrating on just about anything. A small task such as repeating after the teacher in school can be challenging for them.
According to Very Well Mind, an online resource aimed at improving mental health, some kids may feel insecure about their role in different relationships. They may base their worth on the approval of others. If they are being bullied in school, this can drastically impact the child’s self-esteem.
I would be doing a disservice to you all if I did not mention suicide rates among children and adolescents, as this has become an increasing issue in the last decade. Adults are not the only ones who have suicidal thoughts; it is the second leading cause of death for children, according to several reports. The most important thing to do, if you think your child is at risk, is to not ignore the warning signs.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline (Available 24/7)