Check out some of my articles that have appeared on yoffielife.com:
Check out my contribution to an article on AllParenting.com on how moms can bond with their sons:
20 Simple ways for moms to bond with their sons
Check out these links to my contributions to articles on GlobalPost.com, America's World News Site:
Self-Esteem Building Exercises for Children
How to Help a Daughter Deal with Girl Drama
Children are not immune to depression!
by Alyssa Slansky, M.A., LMFT
Did you know that, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as many as 1 in every 33 children may suffer from depression, and in teens, that number may be as high as 1 in every 8?
Unlike adults who suffer from depression, children may not be able to articulate what they are feeling inside and be able to ask for help. Because of this, it is extremely important for parents and caregivers to educate themselves about depression and learn how to help if your child, or a child you know, seems depressed.
Depression is a biologically-based illness that affects children as well as adults. Depression is defined as an illness when the feelings of depression persist and interfere with a child or adolescent’s ability to function.
We might expect that children experiencing extreme stress such as divorce, a death in the family, school-related issues, learning or anxiety disorders might be at risk, but even children who seem to have a "normal" life can suffer from depression. Children with a genetic disposition towards depression may also have a low tolerance for stress. What might seem trivial to an adult could very easily trigger depression in these children.
The good news is that depression is a treatable illness.
We cannot assume that the behavior of depressed children will be the same as the behavior of depressed adults. Please be aware of some of the following signs of depression in your child or adolescent:
Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
Persistent boredom; low energy
Social isolation, poor communication
Low self esteem and guilt
Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
Difficulty with relationships
Frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches and stomachaches
Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
Talk of or efforts to run away from home
Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self destructive behavior
You may notice your child, who used to enjoy playing often with friends now spending most of the time alone and seemingly uninterested. Things that the child once enjoyed now seem to bring little happiness to the depressed child. Children and adolescents who are depressed may talk about not wanting to live any more. Depressed adolescents may look to alcohol or other drugs as a way of trying to help themselves feel better. Children and adolescents who often get into trouble at home or at school may also be suffering from depression. Because the depressed child may not always appear sad, parents and teachers may not realize that their behavior is a sign of depression.
Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for depressed children. Depression is a real illness that requires professional help. If one or more of these signs of depression persist, parents should ask their family physician to refer them to a qualified mental health professional, who can diagnose and treat depression in children and teens. Please remember that an early evaluation and diagnosis are key to helping your child or adolescent get the help they need!