No Child Play: What You Should Know About Depression in Kids

Stressed child on the floor

When it comes to the topic of depression, kids are rarely included in the conversation. It’s hard for adults to think of children as unhappy or miserable simply because the young aren’t supposed to be that way. They should be a big ball of energy, running around, playing with peers, and talking non-stop. But the truth is that children are vulnerable to this mental illness, too. As the parent, you need to be sensitive to your kids’ psychological well-being.

What Depression in Children Looks Like

You probably know the symptoms of depression: irritability, sadness, withdrawal from people, and loss of appetite. But can you differentiate it from occasional moodiness? For instance, when your son refuses to get up from bed or keeps himself cooped up in a room all day, it’s hard to judge whether it’s just the blues or a problem that merits a check from a psychologist.

One thing that separates depression from typical low moods is the severity of the behavior. If you notice that your child’s emotional state has gone so bad to the point that it interferes with daily routines, they might have something more serious than the typical blues. Another thing that distinguishes the two is the duration. If the mentioned symptoms last for more than two weeks, you need to take your child to the doctor.

It’s also worth noting that depression sometimes happens with no apparent trigger. Although a child can experience it after a tragic event like a death in the family, it can’t always be linked to a dreadful situation. You have to understand that depression can be a product of hereditary influences or hormonal imbalance. Even if life goes smoothly, your child can have a severe mental illness. You always have to be sensitive to their emotional health.

What to Expect from Treatment

Sad kid on a swing

The best way to know if your child is indeed experiencing depression is to consult a doctor. Usually, experts will give you and your child an assessment questionnaire. They’ll also run through your family history. Once diagnosed, the treatment plan will have different aspects. For instance, your child might go through cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT in Westport.

Psychologists say that this kind of talk therapy involves challenging negative thinking patterns. The therapist will help your child identify depressive thoughts and counter them with realistic, positive ones. From that healthier frame of mind, they’ll be able to change their behavior.

For instance, when they wake up thinking, “It’s not worth trying to excel in school anymore,” they’ll learn to flip the perspective into, “This isn’t helpful at all. Trying is already a win.” Aside from therapies, doctors also prescribe certain medications to alter brain chemicals and normalize hormone levels. In severe cases of depression where there’s suicide, hospitalization is necessary.

In the end, you should remember that kids are also at risk of depression. Be very sensitive to your child’s mental or emotional state. When you see the signs, you must take them to their doctor immediately.