When it comes to your child, you want to do everything in your power to keep them healthy, happy, and safe. However, when it comes to a mental health condition, all of the protective care in the world cannot always prevent such issues. Depression, for example, is an increasingly common mental health disorder among children. In order to provide your child with the right care and help if they do suffer from depression, it is important that you learn some of the signs of depression in children.
Appearing Sad or Expressing Sadness
Of all of the symptoms of depression in children, the most recognizable is, in fact, the showing or expression of sadness. This can mean simply the appearance of sadness, including perpetual frowning, teary eyes, or a hunched over posture. Expressing sadness means that your child tells you that they are feeling sad. It is important to note that sadness would need to be frequent and/or long-lasting (for several days or weeks) to be a sign of depression rather than a simple bad day.
Surprisingly, there are many children that do not necessarily look sad or talk about being sad when they are depressed. Instead, the child may be especially irritable and short-tempered when they are feeling depressed.
Children that are irritable may seem to be defiant, have an overall negative attitude, and might get angry or upset easily. They might find jokes annoying or could begin to pick fights when a parent tries to have a simple conversation with them. This irritability masks their underlying negative thoughts and emotions about themselves.
Poor School Performance
Another sign that your child may be depressed is a decline in their school performance. If your child was previously a good, engaged student, but suddenly shows little to no interest in their studies or begins having trouble completing their tasks, they could be depressed.
Depression can affect several aspects of your child's life, including motivation, focus, concentration, energy, and memory. They could easily forget to do their homework, not have enough energy for schoolwork, or lose focus and concentration and get frustrated.
Loss of Interest in Play or Activities
When a child becomes depressed, they may also lose interest in activities or in play in general as well as have difficulties with schoolwork. A once playful and active child might become lethargic and prefer to sit in front of the television instead of playing. An athletic child may decide that they no longer want to be involved in sports. These sudden changes in activity levels and behaviors are telling signs of depression.
Now that you know some of the signs of depression in your child, you can contact a pediatric psychologist or other mental health providers as soon as possible if you see any of these signs.