When depression hits kids

By • Published: October 19th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

A bad day in preschool, spilled juice, a missed episode of Sesame Street… just about anything could throw your tot’s day out of whack. But what if the melancholy lingers, and you can’t pinpoint any reason your little one’s got the blues?

It’s rare, but even preschoolers can become clinically depressed. And there are a few clues parents can pick up on to try and spot when there’s a problem.

It’s normal for children to become sad now and then, but generally the gray clouds disappear within a few days. If your child has seemed down for weeks, it may be time to see a doctor or specialist.

There are other potential signs of clinical depression that parents should watch out for, too. For example, if your child suddenly stops doing well in school, is less interested in eating or doesn’t seem to enjoy playing or spending time with friends anymore, it could be because of depression. Other symptoms include isolation, anger, running away, low self-esteem and sleep changes.

Depression in adults is another risk factor for depression in kids. If a child sees his mother depressed, he may mirror her behavior. Also, children dealing with anxiety may be more likely to face depression later in adolescence than other kids.

If you suspect your child is facing more than the occasional blahs, experts say to trust your instincts and seek help from a child psychologist or psychiatrist.

Depression is not likely to be a problem a kiss can heal, but getting help could make the difference in your child’s life.