25% of adolescents experience depression
Dr Jules Bemporad, of Harvard Medical School, describes childhood depression as:
a painful state of having lost, or being unable to attain, something that is essential for maintaining a sense of wellbeing (such as the absence of a loved one, frustration of some aspiration or curtailment of some meaningful function or activity). The child feels helpless to remedy the loss, and impotent and resigned in the face of deprivation.
It is not always easy to identify a child with depression because of the social stigmas surrounding it. A teenager many try and hide it for fear of further rejection by their peers.
They may be quite and withdrawn or they may not co-operate in class with other children, they can also display aggressive and antisocial behaviour or be slow and unmotivated. Depression affects every sphere of a young person’s world; at home, at school, socially and emotionally.
Their mood swings may vary from day to day and hour to hour. This makes it very difficult to anticipate and respond in a positive way to the behaviour they are displaying.
Certain situations can trigger depression such as a family break up at home or bullying at school.
Andrew Fuller, author, clinical psychologist and Generation Next speaker, says that many adolescents may feel ‘pissed off’ and bored rather than sad. They may also be restless and have trouble concentrating, engage in risk taking behaviour and not see the point or value in anything.
Tips to help children with depression
- Try to collaborate with parents and care givers to gain a full picture of what might be making the child depressed and try to put some supportive measures in place.
- Listen to the child, never dismiss their concerns but acknowledge their feelings.
- Find out if certain classes, groups of students or times of day add to their anxiety and if so try and support them through these times by giving them coping strategies. This might be some time out to pursue something that makes them feel good about themselves.
- It the classroom environment is too overwhelming for them try to give them a quiet activity that they can do alongside the class.
- If you can see that they are just not managing then suggest they go and see the school counsellor for support and a chat or seek the help of a health professional.
- Empower a child suffering from depression by teaching them resilience skills and problem solving strategies.
- Provide opportunities for success; let them know that you believe in them and that they can succeed. Give positive feedback whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Andrew Fuller will be speaking at our Mental Health and Wellbeing Seminars on suicide prevention . The remaining seminars for this year will be in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Sydney. To register or download the brochure click on one of these locations or go to the events section of our website. These events are extremely popular so we urge you to book your seat soon!