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Signs that your Child may be Depressed During the Pandemic

As lockdown goes on, one really important thing we should be watching out for in our children, as well as ourselves, is depression. Naturally, we all feel down when our social life is cancelled and the majority of us are trying our best to stay positive and upbeat. But, depression is much more than just feeling sad, or having a couple of bad days, and a young child or teen who is seemingly stuck in a negative mood, not enjoying anything at all, despite how hard his parents are trying, may have depression and may need some help to be able to move forward.

However, it CAN actually occur in children as young as four years old. Children who already have a known history of depression are particularly in danger of it re-occurring during this awful time of lockdowns, anxiety and worry about the future. However, traumatic times like this can also trigger depression and severe anxiety in children who have never shown any previous signs or symptoms.

So, what are the signs and symptoms of depression in children?

It can be quite hard to spot depression in teens because they are notoriously moody, sullen, quiet etc. Also, during this current time of lockdowns, covid, and social distancing, where sad and irritable children are all around us, the signs and symptoms can be really hard to spot!

Signs of depression in children and teenagers are:

  • Sadness

  • Changes in weight

  • Changes in sleep

  • Loss of interest even in things the child previously liked

  • Feeling of uselessness

  • Self – loathing “I hate myself – I’m ugly”

  • Feeling sluggish

  • Feeling irritable

  • Teary

  • Thoughts or talk of suicide.

  • Staying in their room all the time

  • Being very quiet (more than normal)

So, if your child should show any of the above signs for more than a couple of weeks, it could be that he or she is struggling with depression. If you notice these symptoms, do make a note of them with the date. If these symptoms continue past two weeks, then it’s time to take some action.

What I encourage the parents of the children I treat in my therapy rooms or over zoom, is to make sure the child gets used to sharing their feelings, and not keeping them bottled up.

You can either have family chats whereby you all sit down as a family and chat about the week – what was good about it? What was not so good? And what could be improved for next week?

Alternatively, if you feel your children would prefer a one to one chat, then spend half an hour with your child, just chatting about what you are BOTH feeling. If you get into the routine of “checking in” with your children, they will get used to it and start opening up to you.

Try and ask specific questions, if they say they are worried about “the virus” – ask them what it is they are actually worried about – is it the fact that due to the virus they have to isolate or social distance from their friends? Or, are they frightened that you or another family may catch it and die? Or worse still – or are they worried THEY will die?

Things to do to help your child:

  • Help your child not to overthink things and catastrophise.

  • Children very often obsess over how bad things are, so try and help them not to do this.

  • Keep your child active with fun things so that he feels he has accomplished something every day – even really small things.

  • Teach your child how to challenge any negative thoughts. Talk to him – get him to question those negative thoughts. What can he do to have contact with his friends in the meantime? Facetime perhaps?

  • Teach your child how to challenge any negative thoughts.

  • Exercise is always good for depression, but it doesn’t have to be just walking – any exercise – an online dance class or online martial arts class for the boys.


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