By Emsie Martin
It is almost impossible nowadays to think that only certain people can fall victim to depression and that only adults can get it. This is not true, however, because children can also lapse into depression.
According to Dr ST Potgieter, a psychologist from Bellville, it is important to understand that children’s depression is not the same as the normal sadness or miserableness experienced by children. Like adults, children also experience various emotions. There are, therefore, times when a child will feel more depressed – this is normal. Normally it is only when this miserableness and sadness continue and disrupt a child’s normal functioning that it could possibly be depression.
The symptoms of depression in children vary. A distinction can also be made between younger children and teenagers. Sometimes depression is not diagnosed as such because the child’s actions or feelings are seen as part of the normal process of growing up. Sometimes a child expresses their depression in some other way, for instance through aggression.
The diagnosis of depression in children can be complicated and demands that the parent really be part of his or her child’s life. Only then will you as parent immediately notice if there are any signs you should be worried about.
Symptoms that could point to depression
- prolonged melancholy – always feeling sad
- thoughts of death and suicide
- listlessness, constant tiredness and lack of energy
- no interest in daily activities
- does not want to do fun activities
- thinks everything is his/her fault
- feelings of guilt
- diminished thinking and concentration
- changes in behaviour
- changed eating patterns
- changed sleeping pattern
- changes in weight
- wants to lie on a bed all day
- verbal outbursts and is irritated
- physical complaints, such as stomachache and headache, that do not react positively to treatment
- impaired daily functioning at home, school and at social level
- withdrawal from social interaction
- experiences a lot of anxiety and/or tension
Dr Potgieter wants to stress that a child who displays some of the above-mentioned symptoms is not necessarily suffering from depression. For a diagnosis you should consult a professional person. It is also important to remember that symptoms of depression in children vary. It will also be wise to read articles on this to get a broader perspective on this subject.
See this just as general guidelines and you as a parent must still consult your doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist.
Perhaps you are a clinical psychologist, teacher or social worker who wants to help and support people. It can be a thankless profession where you are usually the first one to be criticised and the last to be recognised. You do wonders in a challenging environment where not everyone wants to be helped. For that reason Solidarity Occupational Guilds offer you an opportunity to join any of its guilds. Visit the link https://gildes.solidariteit.co.za/ for more information.
Dr ST Potgieter , psychologist from Bellville, tel: 021 949 5007