Is your child too young to be depressed? Experts feel otherwise

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Dr Pallavi Arvind Joshi, Consultant Psychiatry, Columbia Asia Hospital says that instances of depression among school going children, below 14 years of age, are on the rise.

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According to statistics, around 15% of the child population in India suffers from depression. Here, we are not talking about occasional blues and everyday mood swings that a child goes through, but a strong feeling involving despair or hopelessness that lasts for weeks, months, or even longer.

Dr Pallavi Arvind Joshi, Consultant Psychiatry, Columbia Asia Hospital, Whitefield, says that instances of depression among school going children, mostly below 14 years of age, are on the rise.

“Other behavioural disorders like oppositional conduct or juvenile delinquency are also quite common among children, with symptoms being bed wetting, being rude and showing misconduct, and at times even exhibiting violence,” said Dr Pallavi.

It is important for parents to identify symptoms

While mood swings among children are common and quite normal, if the condition persists for long or for more than two weeks, medical intervention would be required.

It is important for parents and teachers to identify symptoms of depression among kids and assist them with psychological help, well in time.

According to Dr Pallavi, “Primary symptoms of depression among kids include irregular appetite, with either excessive sleeping habits or sleeplessness, anxiety features in the child such as restlessness, reduced concentration and body anxiety features such as fast heartbeats and tremors. Children in such cases tend to get disturbed over petty reasons. Parents should be vigilant and ask teachers to pay attention to unusual behaviour. The academic performance will also be noticeably affected in such cases. Children also tend to stay alone or remain continuously sad.”

Keeping your kids away from depression

While academic pressure and negligence from busy working parents are two most dominant reasons behind depression among children, other factors that trigger this include lack of carefree time to play, unsupervised television watching and inability to cope emotionally with no grandparents in the nuclear family to fall back on.

Here are a few tips to ensure that your child stays away from depression:

  • Parents should spend at least 15 minutes every day talking to their kids about how their day went in school and at home and about any concerns they have or any issue they are facing.
  • Parents should make sure that the criticism is not directed to the child, but that they criticize the "bad quality."
  • They should quietly watch the activities of child without his or her knowledge.
  • Encourage daily physical exercise to channelize negative energy and milder forms of depression.
  • A daily intake of a glass of milk and 2 servings of fresh fruits for better Tryptophan in the body is extremely important. This helps in creating a happy mood.
  • Parents should try and maintain a friendly relationship with kids and also ensure discipline at home.
  • Parents should abstain from comparing kids with their friends as this can leave a negative impact. However, comparing past and present performance is harmless.
  • Children less than 9 years of age shouldn’t be allowed to watch unsupervised television for more than 2 hours per day. The parents should know what the children are watching.
  • The teachers at school should be periodically visited and enquired on behavioural aspects such as respectful towards others, friendliness and friendship.

Also Read: My world revolves around my child and I will not apologise for it

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