(The writer can be reached at email@example.com)
Mental Health conditions do not discriminate or differentiate our society. It implies to all – no matter how affluent you are, how famous and well-off you are. Even your social status does not provide any safe guard to you rather you may fall prey to the mind troubling pain of depression. Although the term depression sounds fancy for low feeling, still we are at a nascent stage to know it and overcome it.
What is depression?
Feeling sad or miserable is a normal reaction to experiences that are stressful or disturbing. However, when these feelings go on and on over the period of time and take over your usual self and affect with your whole life, it can turn out to be an illness. This illness is called 'depression'. A young person with depression may experience major problems not only with how he/she feels, but also with how he/she behave. This may cause difficulties at home and at school, as well as in relationships with family and friends. At the extreme end of depression, a small number of young people may develop 'psychotic' symptoms that may include very unusual and sometimes unpleasant thoughts and experiences like hearing voices and in some cases it develops mania too.
Depression is believed to occur in about 1-3% of children and young people although anybody can suffer from depression of all ages, societies, and social backgrounds. It is more common in older adolescents, particularly teenage girls, but can affect children of any age.
How do I know if my child has depression?
* During most of the day the child may feel low mood or irritable behaviour and looks tearful or crabby.
* Unable to enjoy the activities or things that make your child happy.
* Remarkable changes in eating behaviour and thus the change in body weight.
* Sleeping pattern and time changes, low sleep at night and sleep during day.
* Wants isolation from family or friends.
* A lack of energy or feeling low to do simple tasks.
* Feelings of low self-esteem and worthlessness or guilt.
* Problem in decision making and to take responsibilities.
* Lack of focus and no planning for the future.
* Aches and pains when nothing is really wrong.
* And lastly but not the least have thoughts of death or suicide.
Any of these signs can occur in children who are not depressed, but when seen together, nearly every day, they are warning sign for depression.
Why my child has depression? What is the cause?
According to research there is no specific cause for depression. It is usually caused by a mixture of things or events rather than any one thing alone such as:
* There are lots of things which we can relate as personal experiences and that can be a trigger. These include family breakdown, the death or loss of someone you love, neglect, abuse, bullying and physical illness.
* It can also happen if there are too many shifts or changes in your life too quickly.
* Another thing is isolation. In many families it's very hard to find someone to talk, to share views and opinions and thus slowly and slowly stress level increases which leads to depression.
* Depression may run in families and can be more common if you already suffer from physical illness or difficulties.
* From clinical point of view depression seems to be linked with chemical changes in the part of brain that controls mood. What should I do if my child is depressed?
* Talk to your child about his/her feelings and the things happening at home and at school that may be disturbing him/her.
* The basics for good mental health include a healthy diet, enough sleep, exercise, and positive connections with other people at home and at school.
* Limit screen time and encourage physical activity and fun (mental) activities with friends or family to help develop positive connections with others.
* Help your teen relax with physical and creative activities. Focus on his/her strengths. Talk to and listen to your child with love and support.
* Lay emphasis on one task at a time. Break down problems or tasks into smaller steps so your child can be successful.
n If the sign of depression is visible on your child, visit a counselor first. With psychotherapy and other techniques or sessions, your child will be much more benefitted. Let's walk together to be a path breaker for your child and their fraternity, and turn off the painful fight with depression into an opportunity to remove the stigma attached to depression and anxiety.