Thursday, November 30, 2006

Childhood depression: Learn how to help a depressed child.

Childhood depression, not unlike adult depression, is a disorder that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Let’s learn the causes and symptoms of depression in children and what you can do if your child suffers from depression.

Like adults, children can suffer from depression, in this case: childhood depression. It’s not uncommon and since children actually are the purest of humans, it might be safe to say if a child is depressed-and they actually tell you that-it’s a rather serious issue.

One of the most common misconceptions about childhood depression is:”what do children have to be depressed about?”. Perhaps this reveals a few misunderstandings about childhood depression and what it is. Childhood depression is more intrusive into the child’s very existence, may be long-lasting and if not attended to life threatening.

Perhaps another misconception may have to do with us thinking, being a child is a care-free, trouble free stage of human life. Not necessarily, with peer acceptance, school and family expectations, it is enough to make a kid worry and could be a huge factor to be considered in regards to dealing with a case of childhood depression.

Other Causes of Childhood Depression:

1. Family History of Mental illness or suicide.

2. Abuse (physical, emotional or sexual)

3. Chronic illnesses.

4. Loss of a parent at an early age to death, divorce or abandonment.

5. Improper diet and lack of sufficient exercise.

6. Excessive exposure to negative factors such as parents arguing, bad neighborhoods etc

7. Insufficient parental attention.

Though this is not a conclusive list of the causes of depression in children, perhaps these factors are the most common ones.

Symptoms of Childhood Depression:

1. Loss of interest in hobbies and activities

2. Abrupt change in Appetite

3. Change in sleep patterns (either increase or decrease).

4. Difficulty concentrating.

5. Making depreciating statements like “I’m not good enough, I’m stupid…”

6. Persistent Sadness.

7. Recurring thoughts of Suicide

8. Excessive clinging or withdrawal

If you notice any of these in your child’s behaviour it may be time to seek help. But, keep in mind, the first step may be a good heart to heart talk with your child.

Reconnect with them. Make plans for a getaway saying things like “How about you and I going to the movies, park etc…?”. Now seize this time to carefully see what could be the problem.

Also, borrowing from Yoga principles , now will be a good time to assess your entire family’s diet. Diet plays, perhaps the most important role in one’s health, especially children in their growing stages so all efforts should be made to ‘pleasantly’ enforce a proper diet.

You may not have to work too hard, most kids LOVE bananas and other sweet fruits and fresh juices. Vegetables…maybe not so much, but you get my gist. Try to replace processed foods with healthier ones.

Remember children are wonderful imitators, so if you yourself happen to be depressed, I recommend drug-free alternatives such as Yoga, and the previously mentioned proper eating. Make efforts yourself to be cheerful as much as possible as kids do mimic what their parents constantly do.

Devote thirty minutes or more a day for open air recreation for yourself and your family. Visits to the zoo, active play, and swimming tend to relieve tension created in the home, school, and work and this may go a long way in assisting in curing childhood depression in the family.

Finally, if you are of a spiritual inclination, try prayer power and introduce your child to it.

Remember this quote “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.” I believe a child connected to God is one sure way of preventing childhood depression. (Of course with the factors previously mentioned.)

Parenting or being a role model to a child is a duty that may be tasking at times, even more say when dealing with a depressed child. However with the suggestions given, if tackled properly, childhood depression need not be a thing your kid has to go through.

Foras Aje is an independent researcher and author of Fitness: Inside and out, a book on improving physical and mental health naturally. For additional information on depression treatment visit

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