Is your child depressed?
It is probably safe to say that all parents have at some point asked themselves this question. Children seem to go through mood swings often. Some days they are up and feeling good, other days not so much. How can you tell, though, if their rollercoaster of emotions are "normal" or something to be concerned about? Just because a child is sad doesn't mean he/she is depressed. There is a difference between the blues and depression. The key to determining the difference is to ask yourself this question . . . "is his sadness disrupting his everyday life?" Unfortunately, depression in children often goes undiagnosed and untreated because it hides under the cover of "normal emotional/psychological changes that occur during growth." Parents sometimes mistake real depression for thoughts of "this is just the ways kids are." What many parents don't know, however, is a child's anger and acting out behavior oftentimes has depression at its root. Here are some signs of depression in children:
-Feelings of hopelessness
-Changes in appetite
-Changes in sleep
-Vocal outbursts or crying
-Physical complaints that are unexplained or reoccur
-Reduced ability to function or do things they usually do
-Low self-esteem, feeling worthless or guilt
-Change in appearance
-Lack of interest in things they used to like
-Risky behaviors: drugs/alcohol/sex
The good news is---depression is treatable! These feelings can go away with the proper help. This isn't a forever thing! There is hope!
Parents must get this help for their child sooner rather than later. The earlier intervention occurs, the better chance for success! If you are at all thinking this could be your child, please don't wait for the symptoms to progress. Let me help you! We can figure this thing out together and get your child back on the right road. One of the biggest mistakes parents sometimes make is ignoring it, hoping it will just get better on its own. Sometimes it takes more than that and seeking help isn't an admission of failure, it is actually an act of love.
If you see any of these red flags call me or someone else immediately (I do make house calls when necessary!)
-Self harm: cutting, burning, pulling hair out, scratching self. tattooing self
-Suicidal talk, thoughts, actions of any kind
-Extreme risky behavior-(actually a form of harming self)
-Binge eating, throwing up, overeating (another form of self harm)
My heart hurts when I see the statistics on the amount of children dealing with depression. It has become an epidemic that seeds of hope can help!
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Stacey Lewis, MA
Family Therapist. Wife.