What to do when your child gets depressed

Off late, newspapers and Facebook walls are plastered with stories of cases of depression which are sometimes fatal and lead to death.

So, what is depression?

Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.

Is it serious?

Yes, it is! It is a major depressive disorder.

Is it treatable?

Fortunately, yes, it is!

So as a parent, what to do when your child gets depressed?

Signs of depression vary from age to age. For some it may be feeling sad or having a depressed mood, loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed doing, change in appetite, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, increased fatigue, sluggish movement; and in some it could be as extreme as feeling worthless or guilty, difficulty in concentrating, negative thoughts and conversations, irritation, unexplained anger and the most dangerous of all, thoughts and talks of harming oneself, suicidal thoughts and more.

What is important for the parent to do is take note when a child shows such unexplainable behavior. Be aware of your child’s mood swings. Open communication channels and talk to your child … not as a parent who judges, but as a friend who understands. Understand what is causing this depression and try and discuss it.

It is ok if a child feels cranky or throws tantrums but if these episodes of tantrums and unruly behavior continue or increase, you need to get cautious. If you are unable to help your child or understand your child’s problems then seek help immediately.

Children need loving care and nurturing like a delicate plant. As a parent that is all that you can do. Show your child that no matter what happened or what the situation is, you will always be with your child. Tell your child time and again that you love him/her and that you are always there for him/her.

As a Child Psychologist, I also recommend physical contact with your children. Like the old saying “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away”, just like that ‘A Hug A Day helps keeps depression away”. Touch your child, as touch and the warmth of the palm give a feeling of being loved. Sometimes that all a child needs to feel positive and come out of the feeling of unexplained sorrow.

As a parent the first thing that you can do is keep your eyes and ears open for sings of depression. Maybe your child has started complaining about everything and everybody. Understand why! Or maybe your child is not speaking up and voicing her concerns; find out why! Maybe your child is complaining about unexplained tummy aches or headaches. Children occasionally complaining of aches and pains to get away from a task, that’s ok! But if this complaints of aches and pains persists, then find out why, find out what or who causes it.

Children as such do not experience fear and are not afraid of anything. They react as a reflection to what or how their parents react. So, if you notice, most children are unafraid of animals; it is only when the parents start screaming at the sight of a dog that the child too expresses fear on seeing a dog. So, if your child is showing signs of being fearful about a thing, person or animal; try to find out why.

Depression, at its onset, is treatable with a gentle touch, a caring word and a loving hug. However, if the feeling persists, then a parent, you must seek help. Visit a Psychologist and find out the reasons behind your child’s depression and together as a unit comprising of your child, the specialist and yourself bring your child out of depression.

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