It is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with both depression and an anxiety disorder, or depression and general anxiety. About half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
It’s normal for kids to feel sad, down, or irritated, or to be in bad moods from time to time. But when negative feelings and thoughts linger for a long time and limit a child’s ability to function normally, it might be depression.
Depression is a type of mood disorder. The main sign is when kids are sad, discouraged, or irritable for weeks, months, or even longer. Another sign a kid might have depression is negative thinking. This includes focusing on problems and faults, being mostly critical and self-critical, and complaining a lot.
Depression can interfere with energy, concentration, sleep, and appetite. Kids with depression may lose interest in activities and schoolwork, seem tired, give up easily, or withdraw from friends or family.
When kids have depression, it’s hard for them to make an effort, even when doing things they used to enjoy. Depression can make kids feel worthless, rejected, or unlovable. It can make everyday problems seem more difficult than they actually are. When depression is severe, it can lead kids to think about self-harm or suicide.
It can be hard for parents and other adults to know when a child is depressed. An irritable or angry mood might seem like a bad attitude or disrespect. Low energy and lack of interest might look like not trying. Parents (and kids and teens themselves) may not realize that these can be signs of depression.
Because depression can show up in different ways and might be hard to see, it helps to let a doctor know if feelings of sadness or bad moods seem to go on for a few weeks.
If one or more of these signs of depression persist, parents should seek help:
1. Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
2. Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
4. Persistent boredom; low energy
5. Social isolation, poor communication
6. Low self-esteem and guilt
7. Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
8. Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
9. Difficulty with relationships
10. Frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches and stomachaches
11. Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
12. Poor concentration
13. A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
14. Talk of or efforts to run away from home
15. Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-destructive behavior
Ways to help your child combat depression :
Treatment with a therapist is important. But you play an important role, too. At home, these simple but powerful things can help your child deal with depression.
Be sure your child eats nutritious foods, gets enough sleep, and gets daily physical activity. These have positive effects on mood.
1. Enjoy time together. Spend time with your child doing things you both can enjoy. Go for a walk, play a game, cook, make a craft, watch a funny movie. Gently encouraging positive emotions and moods (such as enjoyment, relaxation, amusement, and pleasure) can slowly help to overcome the depressed moods that are part of depression.
2. Be patient and kind. When depression causes kids and teens to act grumpy and irritable, it’s easy for parents to become frustrated or angry. Remind yourself that these moods are part of depression, not intentional disrespect. Avoid arguing back or using harsh words. Try to stay patient and understanding. A positive relationship with a parent helps strengthen a child’s resilience against depression.