How do I know if my child is depressed?
Real Mom Problem
“I have a 10-year-old daughter who seems to possibly be suffering from depression. She sometimes says that we don't love her, that we love her brothers more. Is this normal preteen behavior or something more?”
- 1. Look for signs like changes in eating or sleeping habits and loss of interest in activities and friends
- 2. Consider any major life changes that could trigger depression such as a move, loss of a loved one, the onset of puberty, etc.
- 3. Try to get your child to open up to you with some one-on-one time
- 4. Talk to your child's doctor, teacher, or counselor about your concerns
- 5. Take any threats of self-harm seriously
Real Mom Solutions
Kids can have bad days and even bad weeks, just like adults, but how do you know when their sadness is something more serious? See what these moms had to say.
Consider Causes & Talk to Your Child
Kids have bad days and kids can have depression. I would try to find out why your son is feeling bad about himself. Is he being teased? Is a teacher or caregiver being mean to him? I grew up with my mom working as a psychologist and there are signs you can watch for if you think it's more than just having a bad day. Are his grades in school worse than they used to be? Does he still try to do things he enjoys? Does he still want to play with other kids? Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and not something that the person can completely control, so he would need help if he is depressed. You know him best and you should just trust yourself.
There are many factors that could be causing your child's emotional instability: major life changes, puberty, bullying. I suggest getting some real one-on-one time with your daughter. Take her out to lunch or send the other kids to a friend's house and try to get her to open up to you. You may have to do a little prying, but don't push too hard or she'll close up. Try to get her to explain in detail why she feels the things she feels. My daughter tells me everything. I'm the only person she'll tell everything to. She won't even tell everything to her therapist. Sometimes, mom is the best therapist.
Can you make some special time for you and your daughter to talk about what's going on with her? Do a girls' day or girls' night. Take her shopping or something she enjoys and maybe see if she will open up. You could start by pretending you are sharing "gossip" in your life. Like telling her one of your friends told you another friend said (or did) something and see if that opens her up to sharing something that happened in her life. It just might work. Most people like to share when someone else is.
If your son is getting teased, depression and anxiety could be an issue.
Has anything recently changed in your daughter's life that would make her feel sad? Any moves, family deaths, or is she being bullied? I would try getting her to talk to the school guidance counselor. Also speak to her pediatrician.
Consider Related Health Issues
My daughter complained of an upset tummy a lot and I'm in the process of getting her assessed for childhood anxiety. I had never thought of this as a possibility, but after talking about her behavioral problems and anger and tears, this was bought up as a likely possibility. A constant upset tummy or headaches is a very common sign of anxiety.
Stomach issues could stem from depression.
Does depression run in your family? I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 11. Lack of interest in stuff that used to be exciting, or that she used to like, is sometimes a sign of an underlying problem.