Whenever we hear the word ‘depression’, we associate it with adults — people over 30 years of age. Depression among children is often termed as a “phase” and they are expected to grow out of it. However, the notion that children are too young to be depressed is a myth.
Nishant*, a Class 8 student studying in a prestigious school in Mumbai, is a promising child. He is always among the top three in his class and is a top performer in extra-curricular activities as well. But when he started alienating from his friends and keeping to himself, his class teacher took notice and called in his parents. They soon realized that Nishant showed all signs of depression. Thanks to the teacher’s timely action, his parents could get him the help he needed.
In cases such as Nishant’s, even though the child may not show any signs in academics or in their daily lives, parents must learn to listen to what the kids don’t say.
A 2017 study conducted by the World Health Organization is especially alarming. According to the report, one in four children, in the age group of 13-15 years in India suffers from depression. India also had the highest suicide rate among 10 South-East Asian countries.
Seven percent of adolescents were bullied and were disturbed due to their peers, family members or teachers. Almost 25 percent of adolescent were sad or hopeless, while 11 percent were distracted, and had a hard time staying focused on their work, the report said. According to the report, parental engagement with adolescents has been found to be low in India with less than half of the parents (47 percent) caring to check if their homework was done or not.
So, how do we tackle this situation? Depression in children is a difficult topic for parents to understand. Hence, we need to tread lightly. The first step for parents is to learn to recognize the signs of depression.
You might want to keep an eye on a disturbed sleep pattern, loss of appetite, low self-worth, and a feeling of tiredness and lethargy. Further, do not ignore physical tantrums and extreme anger as a phase. These basic emotions may manifest into substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, even to the extent of juvenile crimes, claim doctors.
The next step is to be more involved in your kids’ lives. Ask them about their friends and the challenges they are facing in school. Be understanding. Don’t boast about your school days if they are struggling with something. Make it a point to develop such a relationship that you become the first point of contact for your struggling kid.
A couple of decades ago, physicians even denied the existence of depression in children because they believed they lacked the mature psychological and cognitive structure to experience such problems. However, today mental health in children is recognized & acknowledged. Seek professional help to help your child overcome depression.
You can also try our ‘SleepTalk Process’ program. The SleepTalk Process is designed to build and encourage self-esteem among children – a process that shapes the subconscious mind of your child while they are in a light sleep, and becomes their reality when they wake up. The SleepTalk technique empowers children to achieve their full potential without letting stress or negative experiences & influences affect them in any way.