Written by: Krystalyn Davis, LCSW
Being a parent is a 24 hour job. You are noticing the slightest changes that occur. One of the changes can be in your child’s mood. There has been a myth that children cannot become depressed. But in reality, children can experience many emotions similar to adults.
For example, children have the ability to grieve when there is a loss, they have the ability to experience sadness when encountering rejection, disappointment when promises are broken, and the like. It is important to not overlook your child’s response to life changes that may have occurred. Below are a few signs to look for if you suspect that your child maybe depressed.
- Your child’s overall mood is sad with not much changes
- Your child becomes socially withdrawn at home and school
- Your child easily becomes irritated or angry
- Your child’s appetite starts to change (poor appetite during meal time or overeating)
- Your child’s sleeping patterns start to change –(insomnia or over sleeping)
- Your child expresses thoughts of death and or suicide (this may also come out in your child’s play, artistic activities, etc.
If you feel that your child exhibits 3 symptoms out of the 6 listed, it is worth exploring with your child possible factors effecting him or her. It is always a good rule of thumb to rule out certain biological factors. For example, you may notice changes in eating habits and sleeping patterns. It maybe that your child has physiological issues such as a cold, virus, etc that could be causing the changes. Check with your child’s pediatrician if you are unsure. If there is no biological explanation for the changes you are observing, then you want to explore emotional-well being possibilities. A few pointers would be to ask yourself the following questions:
1. Has there been any recent changes that have occurred in the past 6 months that could possibly be affecting my child? It could be anything from a change in school, moving to a new neighborhood, birth of a sibling, a parent leaving the home, introduction of a step-parent/family, etc.
2. Are you aware of any traumatic event that your child may have been exposed to? Maybe your child heard, witness, or even experience something life changing that is affecting them. There may have been a span of time in between the actual event and the child’s response. Some children have a delayed reaction to situations.
3. How are the family dynamics within your home? Most parents inwardly, want to be the best that can be for their child. However, there may be certain dynamics that impact it such as your work schedule, lack of family support, changes in your energy level or health that can affect your attentiveness and availability to your child.
If you answered yes to any one of these questions, you may want to consider seeking professional help. When it comes to minors, most therapist will want to include you as the parent in different parts of the treatment process. The first appointment would be to meet with you as a family in order to get a better understanding of what is happening accompanied with some sessions with the child alone. Depending on what is disclosed, you will be asked to participate more often. Overall, you as a parent want to also receive tools on how you can best help and support your child.
This article was produced by The Family Life Education Committee a department of The Family Life Project . Visit our website for more articles and free email subscription. Our website is http://www.familylifeproject.us