Everyone goes through periods of feeling unhappy or finding themselves in a temporary lull, even children. But if the feelings are strong or persist for a long time, they might be caused by a medical problem. Childhood depression can be a serious condition that can take over your child’s mood and thoughts, or it could be an isolated instance that simply needs a tender touch.The good news is that awareness and intervention from parents or even a Christian therapist can help kids with childhood depression live normal and happy lives. You may start by simply asking them about their day. Often, just instigating a conversation will open the door to a meaningful conversation. If not, offer your love and support and let them know when they’re ready, you’re there.
In the meantime, pray. Pray over your children because the Great Physician already knows the need and follow up with your child’s pediatrician for a more informative referral. Early intervention is best. Be aware. Be prepared. Keep an active lookout for severe onsets.
What is Childhood Depression?
Childhood depression is a mental health disorder characterized by a sad mood and can become both prolonged and severe. Typically, children with depression show the following signs:
- a depressed or irritable mood for most of the day, nearly every day
- a noticeable decrease in interest or pleasure in nearly all activities; disengagement
- potentially severe problems with eating, sleeping, energy, and concentration, feelings of worthlessness
It’s important to understand that your child, or anyone with depression, cannot just “snap out of it.” Pray for personal patience as you wait on them. Without treatment, symptoms can last for months or even years. Possibly it’s not your child. Maybe it’s a student or coworker you know. Maybe it’s a spouse or parent. Know the signs.
What are other symptoms of depression you can look for? While each child or adult may experience symptoms differently, some of the most common include:
- persistent feelings of sadness
- feeling hopeless or helpless
- having low self-esteem
- feeling inadequate
- excessive guilt
- loss of interest in usual activities or activities once enjoyed
- difficulty with relationships
- sleeping too much or too little
- changes in appetite or weight or refusing to eat
- decreased energy
- difficulty concentrating
- academic or on the job decline
- trouble making decisions
- frequent physical complaints such as headaches, stomach aches, or fatigue
- hypersensitivity to failure or rejection
- irritability, hostility, aggression
What causes depression?
While the exact cause of depression and other mood disorders is not known, they’ve been linked to genetics and environmental factors. The most common factors associated with depression include:
- family history of depression
- parents’ divorce
- excessive stress
- abuse or neglect
- trauma (physical and/or emotional)
- loss of a parent, caregiver, or other loved one
- loss of a relationship, such as moving away or loss of boyfriend/girlfriend
- failure to accomplish tasks such as learning to read, or keeping up with peers in other activities
- chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, arthritis (pain)
- other developmental, learning, or conduct disorders
There are also biological, psychological, and social factors that can contribute to depression separately or in combination. According to science, depression is thought to be caused by a difference in the structure and function of one’s brain that controls the intensity of sad or irritable moods.
There may be a genetic component. If other members of your family have had depression, your child could be more likely to develop it, too. The same goes with a spouse or another loved one: take time and familiarize yourself with their history.
Other factors to consider
A stressful environment at home, school, or in the community can contribute to depression. One may experience depression if they feel unhappy with their surroundings and feel inadequate to create the change needed.
Low thyroid levels may sometimes cause fatigue and other symptoms that may mimic symptoms of depression. Your child’s doctor can discuss this with you in more detail. ASD, autism spectrum disorder, a spectrum of multiple neurological disorders can be a factor.If depressive symptoms are secondary to other conditions, such as untreated ADHD or anxiety disorders on the spectrum, or chemistry issues such as hypo- or hyperthyroidism, adequate treatment of those disorders is essential.
The cause could also be linked to medications, or the reaction of multiple medications taken together. For example, many times RA patients must be careful what types of medications are administered together. Once the body metabolizes a certain combination of medications, it can cause side effects that are linked to depression.
If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, keep in mind that knowledge is power. Read and study this condition. Every good soldier studies his battle plan. Don’t take the diagnosis disheartened. Use the diagnosis as your key on a map just unfolded to you. Learn ways to combat depression. Day by day, learn and embrace.
Implementation of therapy and or supplements is a great start. Reach out to one of the therapists at our office as a first step. Speak to your doctor or child’s pediatrician and encourage your loved one to reach out to their doctor or one of the qualified therapists in our online counselor directory.
Look at what the Bible says. Much encouragement comes from prescribing yourself a daily dose of God’s Word.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:17-18
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. – Psalm 30:5
Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. – Psalm 143:7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6-7
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. – Proverbs 12:25
The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. – Psalm 9:9
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18
Our precious Savior has directed his children to lean on Christ. He cares for us and has grand expectations for us. He desires peace for us. Not just at the end of time, but right now. Peace as we battle and to be of a sound mind throughout our earthly walk. We can march in His army and remain at peace with His grace. He’s near. He’s our refuge. He has a willing ear. He’s our comfort. Our deliverer. Our Redeemer!
- There’s an approach called The Ladder of Health. Here are its rungs:
- Maintenance – Do some footwork. Do your homework. Learn the condition.
- Physical – Address any medicine/Nutritional Changes
- Implement Low-toxicity Pharmaceuticals
- Botanical (Herbal) Medicines as needed
- Use Pharmaceuticals (prescription) if prescribed
- Seek further medical help as needed
As we climb the “ladder of repair,” we certainly can add Christian counseling to this list. Most importantly, even before we step onto the first rung, make sure God’s word is being stirred daily in your heart and mind.
If you’re looking for professional Christian counseling that respects your faith and values, then we’re glad you found us. We are an association of licensed professionals who are experienced in helping people of all ages find healing for a wide variety of struggles.
By merging God-given knowledge in the field of counseling psychology with Biblical guidance and faith-based support, our Christian counselors help individuals, premarital couples, marriages, and families find real, lasting solutions.
If you or a loved one needs help, we welcome you to connect with us today through our Christian counselor directory or online contact form.
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