It takes one cough or one sneeze from your child to make you start worrying about whether your child is catching a cold or has a viral infection. If your child has a more serious issue like chronic stomach aches or asthma, then you rush him or her to a doctor for medical advice. Unfortunately, when your child shows the early symptoms or even severe symptoms of depression you could be pretty much oblivious – mainly because no parent ever wants to think their child could be suffering from depression! Depression in children and teens is more serious than any physical illness, so it needs immediate medical attention. Early diagnosis is essential! Here are 6 signs that your child might be suffering from depression, any or all of which call for professional therapy as soon as possible.
Changed behavior at school/college and at home
If your kid has started showing sudden behavioral changes at home or in school/college, don’t always take this to be a ‘growing up phase’. Frequent visits to the principal’s office, refusing to go to school, a sudden drop in grades and all such behaviors are warning indicators. Try to talk to your child to understand what is going on in his or her life and if there is something bothering your child.
Children, just like adults who suffer from depression, tend to isolate themselves from their friends and family. Loneliness and depression often go hand in hand, so children suffering from depression prefer to spend time all alone. They will withdraw themselves from recreational activities, even sports and activities they once loved. If this happens rarely, it’s probably just a bad day, but if this happens on a regular basis then it might be time to take your child to see a psychologist.
Change in sleep patterns and appetite
A sudden increase or decrease in appetite is a red flag, so is excessive sleeping or barely sleeping. Depression and sleep has an intricate relationship, as depression may cause sleep problems and lack of sleep or too much sleep can only make depression worse. In the short term, depression causes a loss of appetite but in the long run depression could lead to malnutrition or binge eating, depending on how the person deals with their depression.
Low self esteem
More often than not, a child suffering from depression will have self esteem and self image issues. If your child takes too long to get ready for school, is always worried about his or her appearance and needs constant reassurance, there is a high possibility your child could be depressed. Children who are depressed tend to think negatively and poorly about themselves, and are very self critical. Try talking to your child about what is bothering him or her, but if that conversation is in vain then you should consider professional help.
Chronic physical pain
Children who are suffering from depression could suffer from physical pains which do not have any medical cause or reason. Always complaining about headaches, stomach aches and other body pains could be a sign that your child might be depressed. Perpetually complaining about being tired, having no energy or being extremely lethargic is also a warning sign.
Being perpetually sad
One of the most obvious signs that your child might be depressed is if your child is always moping, crying and seeming unhappy. Feeling unmotivated and always being in a low mood is never ‘just a phase’, because a bad day only lasts overnight! Sudden outbursts and bouts of irritability are also an indicator that your child might be going through something, and if talking this out doesn’t help then it’s definitely time to see a therapist.
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