How to Notice Links Between Children Behavior Problem And Depression

Though our greatest worry is the depressed teenager, children of all ages can be depressed. Depression is more than the kind of short-term sadness we all experience. True depression immobilizes, dulls interest and turns out the light at the end of the tunnel.

The depressed five-year-old becomes unhappy, quiet and less animated, usually in response to an upsetting life event. Depression in a ten-year-old may be less obvious, with the main symptom a change from their usual outgoing state. School grades slip, attention fades, and they retreat inward and lose friends and interests.

Depression tends to draw adults and children into their own claustrophobic company. Now everything is an effort, and with this can come open or hidden feelings of hopelessness.

Behavior Problem

Though I am supposed to be skilled in my understanding of children, I rarely diagnose depression in this age and know I must be missing some. The main warning signal is a change in behavior, particularly when related to some disruption or loss in life.

  • Be alert to a change where the child withdraws from friends and interests.
  • The child’s feelings are real. It’s pointless to suggest they pull themselves together. They would do this if they could.
  • Try to keep the child busy. Encourage them to get up at weekends, get out and look neat.
  • Encourage them to talk about, write down or draw how they feel.
  • or help. There are a thousand martyrs for each crisis call but it’s this one cry we can’t afford to miss. Words alone are probably unimportant; words accompanied by isolation and a change in behavior are of greater concern.
  • Opposition and anger often accompany depression. This makes the child extremely difficult and it is our instinct to retaliate with hostility. Tread gently as it is easy to deepen the depression.
  • Depression has some hereditary link. If you have personal experience of this problem, be more alert to the possibility in those around you.
  • When a child has severe learning problems this causes stress at school and blocks many avenues of success in life. These children are more vulnerable to depression and it is hard to show them the achievement they so much need.
  • Encourage outside interests and looking forward to something.
  • Professional psychological or psychiatric help is recommended for all depressed children and is a matter of urgency when self-harm is a possibility.
  • The old-fashioned anti-depressants like Tofranil (imipramine) have little effect in depressed children, though there is some evidence that the newer selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs like Zoloft and Prozac may bring some gains.

Filed Under: Family & Relationships


About the Author: Alan Kennon lives a very happy life with two kids and a lovely wife. He likes to share his life time experiences with others about how they can improve their lifestyle and personality.

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