Children can have a lot of mood swings, but there is usually no need to be concerned. If you see any of these signs for more than a few days at a time, though, there may be a problem.
1. Lack of energy
Depression can cause a major lack of energy. We are not talking about a lazy day or being tired after a long week. We are talking about being tired almost all day, every day for a significant period of time. Depending on your child’s age and activities, it may be difficult to tell if you should worry.
For instance, puberty seems to bring with it the time to basically hibernate until it is over. This means that you probably do not need to worry about your teenager trying to sleep all day long. Likewise, kids who spend the week going to school and then playing sports afterward will probably want to sleep a lot. That is normal as well.
For the most part, you should probably not be concerned unless the tiredness comes seemingly out of nowhere with no obvious cause. The safest thing to do is speak to your child’s doctor if you are uncertain. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
2. Lack of interest
Children grow and interests change, so just because your son no longer likes Pokemon does not mean he is depressed. However, a sudden lack of interest can be a sign of depression. If you notice that your child is no longer interested in something he has always loved, ask him why this has changed and pay attention to his answer.
He may simply be growing up. If that is the case, he will likely have no problem telling you that he is no longer a baby. With an answer like that, you can probably breathe easy. He has simply gotten to the age where he feels he cannot be cool if he still likes that item. On the other hand, if he just shrugs you off, cannot explain the reason, or anything feels strange when he answers, consider speaking to his doctor.
3. Extreme emotions
Everybody has a bad day, or a bad week, from time to time, but it usually does not last for too long. Being a little moody is not really a reason for worry, but extreme emotions are. If your child is suddenly feeling worthless, hopeless, extremely guilty, very angry, or she starts to cry for seemingly no reason, you should take note. A very serious emotion and thought process to pay close attention to is self-loathing. If your normally confident child starts to hate himself, pay attention.
These emotions are not necessarily signs of depression since extreme emotions also show up during times such as puberty. Even so, it is worth paying a little more attention to your child, talking to her to try to feel the situation out, and talking to her doctor if you feel concerned.
4. Withdrawal from family and friends
Parents of preteens and teenagers will quickly learn that they have no real chance of being cool according to their kid, at least not around friends. If your child is suddenly embarrassed to be seen with you in public and would rather ride the bus than be dropped off, don’t sweat it. If, on the other hand, your son suddenly wants to completely withdraw from everyone close to him, take note as this may be a sign of depression.
This is especially true if they also pull away from all of their friends. Sometimes they simply outgrow their pals and make new ones. It happens and it is not normally a big deal. Retreating to their bedroom not wanting to talk to any family or friends is different, and it might be a sign of trouble.
5. Sudden struggles in school
Some children with depression will suddenly start struggling in school, including in classes they once did so well in. If a new school year is beginning, your child has changed schools, or they get a new teacher, it is very possible that those are the reasons she is now struggling. When there are no extenuating circumstances in sight, though, there may be cause for concern.
Additionally, it would probably point more towards an issue if she suddenly begins struggling in school in general. Sudden struggles in one class is probably not a sign of depression. Try talking with her before making any other moves. She may simply be struggling to focus for some reason instead of being depressed. A conversation- if she will be open- can solve the mystery of school struggles quickly.
Depression is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly. It is also a very common one. Approximately 14.3% of children ages 13-17 have been diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder. Sadly, though, it is not only teenagers that suffer from depression. Even elementary school children are being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, but not all cases are being reported or even noticed.
If you feel that there is any cause for concern with your children, do not hesitate to speak to a medical professional. Your child’s pediatrician can help you analyze signs and determine what, if any, steps should be taken. Do not wait for your child to tell you something is wrong. They often do not know how to articulate their feelings in addition to not really knowing what is and is not normal.