It is perfectly normal for people sometimes to feel sad, irritated, and unhappy, or have bad mood swings – and yes, this also applies to little children.
However, when these negative thoughts and feelings linger for quite some time and affect your child’s ability to function well, your child might be suffering from depression.
What is Childhood Depression?
According to the AACAP or American Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, one in 20 little children suffers from depression. The important thing is knowing when your child is simply blue or really depressed.
Normal sadness or “the blues” comes and goes and is typically related to a specific incident, explains a renowned family counseling specialist here in Westport, Connecticut.
She adds that clinical depression, on the other hand, feels like a dark and heavy cloud that hangs over your child, accompanied by loss of interest and pervasive feelings of irritability and gloom.
Commonly, factors that could increase the risk of small children developing depression include the following:
- Family problems
- Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse
- Predisposition to depression due to a family history of mental health issues
- Significantly difficult life events like problems at school or parents divorcing
- A mix of different things like challenging life events and a predisposition to depression
How You Can Help Your Child
The good news is that you can treat depression, but it is crucial to get early diagnosis and professional treatment. Treatment for childhood depression usually involves therapy with the child and the whole family.
Depending on the severity and specific issues of the child, treatment might likewise include antidepressant medication. Knowing that your young child is suffering from depression is not easy. It is extremely scary and heartbreaking and would consume your thoughts and time as other serious medical issues would.
You also have to deal with guilt – perhaps you could have done things differently. However, know that you should not blame yourself.
Childhood depression is similar to cancer or diabetes in that in some cases, it just appears without reason. The most crucial thing to remember is that you can help your child deal with depression by simply being there for him or her and providing the most appropriate treatment.