Children and Depression

Cassie, a 10-year old, changed from a smiling outgoing child to being sad, withdrawn and unable to go to sleep or stay asleep at night. She had always been very sociable, talkative and pleasant. Now she moped around the house speaking in only short bursts and even then, with an angry tone. Why had she changed?

Cassie had recently lost her favorite grandfather. He died after a year of fighting cancer. The year had been hard for all of the family, but the death wasn’t unexpected. Her parents had talked with Cassie about what might happen to grandpa, but overall her life had gone on as usual, until he died. Her parents tried to be available and reassure Cassie throughout the funeral and the events surrounding his death. Still, in the weeks and months since the funeral Cassie seemed even sadder.

Her parents often tried to be funny and do playful things. They even advised Cassie, “Grandpa’s in a better place”, and “Grandpa wouldn’t be happy knowing you were sad.” eventually they said, “Cassie, just get over it and go be with your friends.” Nothing seemed to get through to her.

Cassie was depressed. Often parents try to manage children’s emotions in order to get them to change. Depression is a serious adjustment reaction to what a child may feel overwhelmed by. In this case, Cassie was overwhelmed by the loss of a beloved grandparent. Losses such as this can have a profound affect on a child’s emotional well being. Often parents think, ‘they’ll get over it”. Certain children will get over an amount of difficult feelings. However many children develop feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. They may detach from parent comfort, withdraw and internalize feelings. Girls are especially vulnerable to depressive moods, often because of their sensitivity to feelings and relationship awareness. It’s estimated by the National Foundation for Depressive Illness that as many as 5 to 10 per cent of all children and adolescents suffer from depression at some time during their growing up years.

When a bad day persists to bad weeks or months, your child may benefit from a little extra help to overcome difficulties such as depression. Problems helped early can change a child for their lifetime.

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