02 Oct

3 Things Every Parent Must Know About Childhood Depression

Do your child's problems tie up your stomach in knots?

Or do they make you feel so frustrated and angry that you feel like giving up?

First, know that your feelings are normal. Even the best of parents with amazing patience go through these emotions. Take a deep breath and lets walk through the three things every parent must know about childhood depression.

The first thing every parent must know about childhood depression is that it is one of the most misunderstood conditions a child can go through. There are the normal signs of depression, like isolating his or herself in a room all day long, excessive crying or not having the ability to enjoy things any more; However, did you know that poor performance in school can be another sign of depression?

At a moment of anger, you might have even scolded your child and said things like ...

  • "Why can't you do your homework? Don't be lazy."
  • "You're never going to amount to anything."

What happens with depression and some forms of anxiety is that it makes concentrating and remembering things very difficult. There is a phenomenon called "Psychomotor Retardation" which makes thought and simple movement (like even getting out of bed) painfully difficult.  See the examples and description in  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychomotor_retardation

I've heard of one story where a respected business man actually forgot his daughter's name after working 100 hour work weeks. If it can happen to a responsible and grown, man, it can happen to your child.

The second thing parent's must know is that when children feel out-of-control, they often use poor coping strategies. So when, things like a divorce, a breakup, not fitting in, failing a test, or getting bullied happens, teenagers are at an especially high risk for resorting to behaviors that can be very damaging to them. Teens are not just "being stupid" or "defiant", but often times they are trying to escape pain.

The third and probably the most important, "Must Know" for parents is that depression in children will often be expressed more through irritability than sadness.

This is the most misunderstood feature of depression in children. Let's describe this using example. You are sitting at the dinner table and just ask your child a simple question. "Where's the party you and your friend are going to tonight? Your child suddenly throws a fit. With an angry tone says, "You can't just leave me alone, I don't have to tell you every detail of my life." Or how about this one. Your child's been in his room by himself for several hours, you simply ask "Why don't you come out here in the living room and spend sometime with the family". He responds, "Because you all annoy me and you all act like a bunch of idiots!"

Sometimes fits like these can be a mask for depression.

If your child gets the wrong feedback from peers and is talked into self-medicating, they can begin a self-destructive pattern only compounding the problem. However, if your child can learn to take these same difficult emotions and learns to comfort them, then the healing process can begin.

Is it hard for your child to get out of bed in the morning?
Does your child have trouble enjoying the things he or she used to take pleasure in?
Are your child's grades suffering? Has your child been a lot more irritable lately?

Getting Help for Depression

The good news is that research has shown that most people who seek qualified professional help eventually overcome clinical depression about 80 to 90% of the time. It does not mean that bad days will never happen again, but it does provide hope that your child can begin managing his or her ailments in a way where you can resume a well-balanced life.

Suicidal Thoughts in Children

The worst and most serious symptom of clinical depression are feelings of utter hopelessness and thoughts of suicide. If your child has been having thoughts of hurting him or herself, seek help immediately. Since children often do not express such serious thoughts to anyone, if you have suspicions, seek help immediately.

Overcome Depression

You and your child can experience inner peace and the joy of a rejuvenated life. If you are tired of suffering through the same old problems and looking for a way out, feel free to contact me. To get through to your child, you need special understanding and a special language to help get through to them. 

Contact Us

If you would like to set up an appointment with one of our counselors, please contact our Child and Family Specialist. Or if you still have questions, we love your questions. Please give us a call and we can set up a free 15 minute phone consultation with the therapist of your choice.