One starts considering the possibility of childhood depression in a school-going child if the symptoms mentioned here are not due to bereavement or loss. In the long-run, if a child does not deal with loss of a loved one it may lead to depression. If a child suffers from some or most of the symptoms for more that 2 weeks, depression can become a possibility.
Diagnosing depression at this age is not a easy thing to do due to children’s normal emotional development that often lead to episodes of tears, sadness and withdrawal from parents. Depression in school-going children tend to become more notable in their school performance and social interaction.
Childhood depression symptoms
- Crying, sadness every day.
- Loss of enjoyment of activities that normally cheer them up.
- Lack of motivation.
- Fatigue and lack of energy every day.
- Grades that drop.
- Sleep changes – either sleeping a lot or too little.
- Changes in appetite. Some children tend to start eating compulsively in an effort to console themselves. Others just do not feel like eating.
- Very sensitive to rejection and criticism. He may say things like “You hate me” or “I am stupid”
- Guilt or obsession about perceived short-comings. A child with depression will be negative towards himself.
- Neglecting appearance. When a child starts going to school, their physical appearance start to become important to them. Though, not as much as it would for teenagers.
- Little interest in others (mostly friends) and social withdrawal.
- “Masked depression.” Instead of looking sad, a child may come across as angry by being bad tempered, irritable and easily angered. They may have repeated emotional outbursts and shouting episodes.
- Fearful, tense and anxious. There are theories that anxiousness and fear are the roots of most childhood depression.
- Fidgeting and pacing a lot.
- Alcohol or drug abuse.
- Complaints of physical pains that does not have a medical cause such as headaches, stomach aches or pains in the legs or arms.
- Suicidal thoughts or self-harming behavior.
Signs Of Childhood Depression
As soon as a child starts saying things like “I wish I was dead” red light should start flashing. Suicide by children younger than 10 is very rare. From the age of 10 to 15 suicide suddenly becomes number 3 on the list of causes of death. Girls tend to attempt suicide more easily while boys are more likely to succeed when they do. When a child starts making comments about suicide, do get professional help.
The possible causes of depression in school-going children are very much the same as for pre-schoolers – a debatable list with limitless possibilities.
View the testimony someone who suffered from childhood depression.