All children will feel sad and down sometimes. Maybe things did not go their way, they lost someone close to them, or got hurt and bullied at school or by their siblings. However, children with depression not only feel sad and/or irritable but they also perceive that nothing is worthwhile and that things will never get better. This leads to a deep sense of helplessness. Childhood Depression affects the way children think, how they see themselves, and how they visualise their futures. A child with depression does not seem to get pleasure from the same things as their peers. They may stop participating in the fun activities that they used to enjoy.
Signs of Depression in Children
When asked to explain how they are feeling, children often find it difficult to answer. This is particularly true if they are depressed. Fortunately, there are observable signs that parents and carers can pick up to determine whether their child is depressed. If you think that your child is struggling with depression, please ask to see one of our child Psychologists at the clinic. If your child displays or experiences some of these key symptoms, they may be clinically depressed:
- Has low energy and poor motivation, no get-up-and-go.
- Has lost interest in one or more activities that were usually enjoyed.
- Does not seem to pay attention and has poor concentration at home and school.
- Makes negative comments about themself. e.g., "I am not good at this; I'll never get it right; You don't love me; I wish I was dead; I wish I was never born; They're all against me"
- Always sees the negatives, rather than seeing the positives in situations.
- Has frequent avoidant behaviours and tends to withdraw.
- Is very difficult to please.
- Is easily irritated, agitated, annoyed, or upset.
- Is prone to angry verbal or physical outbursts.
- Appears/looks sad.
- Cries easily and is difficult to soothe.
- Has no interest in food or overeats.
- Has problems falling asleep, staying asleep, is a restless sleeper, or sleeps too little or too much.
- Wakes from sleep feeling unrefreshed.
Should You Take It Seriously?
Parents may feel annoyed by these behaviours and blame or punish the child for ‘whingeing’ or having outbursts. If your child has suicidal ideation, please take it very seriously. Talking about death, suicide attempts, or actively engaging in self-harm, may be their way of asking for help without actual intent. Regardless of whether suicidal intent is present, they need urgent support.
Please call the clinic for help from one of our child psychologists.