Whilst everyone faces sadness at times, depression is a mental health condition in which an individual experiences intensely low mood, for a prolonged period of time (weeks or months), often without knowing why. In other cases, depression may have an identifiable cause, or may be the combination of different life events or continuing difficulties. Without seeking help, it is unlikely your child will spontaneously improve on their own. However, depression is very treatable, and there are a wide range of options to combat depression and maintain your child’s wellbeing long-term.

If you feel your child is suffering from low mood or is struggling emotionally, seek advice from one of our psychologists here at VCPS. Whilst low mood alone may not necessarily indicate depression, it is important to seek help early in order to help your child improve their mood and get them back on track. Improving your child’s mood is crucial in order to maximise their ability to cope with life’s daily challenges and thrive within all aspects of their life, including school, hobbies and relationships with friends and family.

So, how do I know if my child has depression? Depression is characterised by a low mood and should be considered to be serious when:

  • The depressive mood state is severe
  • It lasts for 2 weeks or more
  • It interferes with your child’s daily functioning

Depression can affect a person’s thoughts, behaviours, feelings, and physical well-being. Depression not only occurs in adolescents, but can also affect children as well. It often appears as a constant low mood, difficulty in soothing them when upset, irritability, outbursts of anger, sensitivity, and difficulty engaging them in an activity.

Have you noticed any of the following signs in your child?

  • Changes in their behaviour:

- Losing in hobbies or games they once enjoyed

- Withdrawing from family members or friends

- Unusual or uncharacteristic behavior such as aggression, lying, bullying etc

  • They seem less confident
  • Changes in appetite
  • Not being able to concentrate
  • Sleep disturbance – not being able to sleep or sleeping more than usual
  • Low energy
  • Wanting to be left alone
  • Bedwetting (in children)

If you have noticed some of these signs in your child, and it is effecting their everyday functioning, it is important to seek help from a practitioner as soon as possible. They may be resistant at first, but psychologists at VCPS are specialised in building open, trusting relationships in which your child can express any concerns and learn to challenge their negative thoughts until they no longer have an effect. Some of the specific ways a psychologist can help your child include:

  • Helping them to express their emotions and identify the factors which are leading to their low mood
  • Improving their ability to cope with stressors and set backs
  • Providing emotional support and understanding
  • Education on the disorder, its symptoms and the most effective ways of managing it
  • Restructuring negative and irrational thoughts
  • Practice meditative and relaxation techniques
  • Use narrative therapy (such as stories) to help the individual increase self-awareness
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