Depression is one of the most widespread diseases of the third millennium, and the World Health Organization estimates that approximately 264 million people of all ages are affected. However, very few people talk about the fact that more and more children and adolescents suffer from depression, with approximately 1.9 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 diagnosed in the United States, according to Children’s Mental Health.
According to psychologist Andra Tănăsescu, vice-president of the Institute of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (INLPSI), the signs of depression among children can be varied, but there are some common elements that should worry us:
(1) irritability and/or anger are often manifested among children who initially develop mild forms of depression, but which can become acute quite quickly if they are not relieved;
(2) symptoms manifested by bodily pains, especially in the muscles, permanent states of restlessness, stress during separation from parents;
(3) loss of interest in usual activities,
(4) withdrawal from previously enjoyable social activities;
(5) concentration difficulties;
(6) running away from home or discussing this topic with other friends on Facebook;
(7) discussions about death and suicide;
(8) increased or decreased appetite, sudden change in body weight (especially by gaining extra pounds),
(9) comments on social networks that indicate hopelessness or low self-esteem.
“Of course, the signs differ from child to child, and in some cases there is a possibility that we will not identify any of these signs, as children today are more and more intelligent and know how to hide their emotions better than we did now one or two generations. When we wanted to cry, we simply cried. When we were angry, we manifested as such; and the good part is that our anger passed rather quickly. Nowadays, a child can hold a grudge inside him for a long time, and this self-imposition can visibly affect his life: he becomes increasingly irritable, angry, aggressive and can make hasty decisions that can sometimes endanger his life ( excessive consumption of drugs, alcohol, thoughts and suicidal attempts), declares psychologist Andra Tănăsescu.
How can we help our child to overcome depression?
The specialist is of the opinion that parents must be the first to identify certain behavioral slippages of the child and turn to professionals specialized in child psychology to receive a recovery plan. Also, to alleviate the symptoms of depression, psychologist Andra Tănăsescu recommends parents to follow certain steps:
1. Encourage the child to get out of the house every day and exercise (he doesn’t necessarily have to do sports, but a walk with the family can help him)
2. Supervising him when he is undergoing drug treatment (if a specialist recommends drug treatment, it is very important to monitor each stage of the treatment so that the child respects it)
3. Make time to talk! Some children do not know how to verbalize their emotions, but with patience and with the help of a psychologist. It is very important to learn to listen to them and gain their trust.
4. Change in diet. Sometimes, the excess of toxins from unhealthy foods can have unsuspected effects on our mental and physical condition, in the long term.