Symptoms to Be on the Lookout for
Depression can manifest in a wide variety of ways, but there are some typical signs. It tends to create a state of low energy, moodiness, and aversion to physical and mental activities that other children may not find nearly as emotionally taxing. Feeling this way on a regular basis can severely affect a child’s sense of well-being and self-esteem, especially when they compare themselves to their non-depressive peers.
A child experiencing depression may feel sad, anxious, empty, helpless, hopeless, worried, worthless, guilty, irritable, hurt, or restless. They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable to them; they may experience loss of appetite, or develop a habit of overeating; they may have problems concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions; they may experience insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, aches, pains, or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment; and in severe cases, they may contemplate or attempt suicide. Without treatment, the frequency and severity of these symptoms tend to increase over time.
How to Help
Support for depression varies with the symptoms being presented, but it usually includes counseling, medication, or a combination of both. There are also a number of recommendations for “at home” treatments that can be used in coordination with counseling or medication. These treatments may include, but are not limited to: consistent exercise; a clean, nutrient-based diet; plenty of water; time spent outdoors in sunshine and nature; meditation; and quality-time with loved ones. It is always advised to work with your doctor and a licensed medical professional in order to find the right treatment plan for anyone suffering from depression.
If you and your doctor determine that counseling is the next step for your family, then you want to find a licensed psychologist who has specific experience working with depression in children. There are several approaches that have been shown to help individuals recover from depression. These different approaches can help identify triggers and factors that may contribute to current symptoms, find ways to change or adapt to those triggers into healthier patterns, set realistic goals for feeling better, identify and rewrite outdated thought processes or behaviors that contribute to deteriorating mental wellbeing, and develop longterm problem-solving skills.