“Depression” the sound of the word itself is quite…depressing. Sadly, it is becoming a very common malady in our world today. Even sadder is the fact that of the number of people who suffer from depression, children are represented too. Children as young as 6 years have been known to suffer depression.
Depression in children does not have one specific cause but rather a number of biological, psychological, and environmental risk factors that are part of its development. Some symptoms of depression in children include sadness over an extended period spanning at over a week or two,withdrawal from family and friends, and once-enjoyed activities, changes to sleeping and eating patterns, poor concentration, putting self in harm’s way without care for hurt, recurrent thoughts of death and suicide, etc.
Knowing how to prevent depression in children is very essential as that can help to make sure that they do not suffer from this mental health illness and help them learn how to deal with their emotions.
Here are some simple things you can do to keep this ugly monster at bay:
Listen: Children are usually quite forthright and frank about how they see things. If you can just take time to really listen to them, you can know their state of mind. Often times, we are quick to brush aside as silly child talk, what are kids try to tell. That is a very bad mistake. Always hear your children out and really consider what they say because its important to them.
Notice and praise: Endeavor to notice all the good your child does and lavish the with praises and words of affirmation for them. Acknowledge their efforts and recognize their achievements. Let them know you are proud of them. This boosts their self worth and esteem. Depression has no place in the mind of a child with a healthy self esteem.
Empathize: No matter how trivial or silly it may seem, if something makes your child feel sad or upset, empathize with them first, before trying to make them feel differently. This way you let them know their feelings do matter. If children think their feelings don’t matter, they learn to mask them and that is not healthy at all as those masked feelings can fester and blow over time.
Reduce: Always strive to cut conflict in the home. Children exposed to constant conflict at home are more likely to be depressed. For your children’s sake, live peaceably with your spouse, your older children, neighbors, etc.Do your best to avoid whatever might lead to conflict and tension in the home.
Nourish: Always provide nourishing and healthy diet for your children. Avoid junk food and too much sugar as they can lead to health issues in your child. A sick child is very prone to depression.
Seek help: If it so happens that your child is depressed, seek professional help immediately.