Discovering that your child is depressed and watching him or her struggle through each day is a painful experience for any parent to live through. It’s important to dig deeper to find out whether your child is actually struggling with depression or whether the cause of their pain is due to anxiety – it can determine how you will help your child.
Anxiety can be caused by external factors in the child’s day-to-day life, and can happen anywhere. Sometimes expectations and demands are put on a child and it makes it uncomfortable for the child to cope with what lies ahead. The child may exhibit all the symptoms of depression, but since it’s a level of nerves and anxiety this is triggering the withdrawn, sad, and quiet mannerisms, doesn’t necessarily mean that the child is depressed.
Actual depression, can be further confirmed by exploring the child’s feelings before making an appointment with a doctor (which could easily make the child more withdrawn because it could be viewed as something is wrong with your child). Also, it is important to try to determine whether your child is suffering from depression or anxiety – allowing you to choose the right doctor for the ailment.
Here are a few things you, as the parent, can look for as beginning signs of a child’s depression. A depressed child may:
1. Cry a lot and for what seems like no reason.
2. Choose to spend more time in his or her bedroom rather than be involved with other members of the family or friends.
3. Lose interest in activities that previously generated joy for the child.
4. No longer participates in social conversations.
5. Verbally lashes out at anyone who challenges what he or she does or does not do.
Understanding the mind of anyone who is depressed, and especially a child, is more than challenging; it’s a sobering and frustrating feeling to be disconnected from someone so young who should be happy and enjoying life.
There’s also a concern that if, in fact, a child is truly not depressed, but recognizes through his or her own manipulation that more love and attention is being given to them, it could prolong the length of time it takes before one can know if it’s time to call in the medical team or not.
The basic rule of thumb is don’t wait to see if the child snaps out of it. Within a short or reasonable amount of time, get a professional to help. You can consult with someone like myself, or you can call and make an appointment with the child’s doctor. In both instances, you will have taken a positive step to helping the child, and that’s important.