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Mommy I'm Sad...

by on 25/02/2014 4786

Often times we think that children are happy-go-lucky, they have no “real” problems so why would they be depress or sad? In fact, kids these days lead quite stressful lives, especially Asian children who are expected to attend tuition for every subject in school, in addition to attending all kinds of lessons after school (e.g., karate, piano, swimming, violin).

What is depression?

Depression is not just merely being in a bad mood or occasionally feeling melancholy. These are normal feelings in a child whenever they are faced with some disappointment. When a child is in a depressive state, they are in this sad state for a very long time. Sometimes weeks, months or even longer and they no longer seem happy even while doing things that they love.

What are the symptoms?

If your child seems to exhibit these symptoms, you should take them to their doctor and get a referral for them to be properly evaluated. For a period of longer then 2 weeks if they exhibit five or more of the following:- 

  • feeling down or really sad for no reason
  • is unable to complete even the simplest task, seem to have a lack of energy
  • no longer can enjoy the things that they use to enjoy
  • irritable
  • angry or anxious most of the time
  • cannot concentrate on their school work or any assignment or task given
  • changes in their weight (either eating a lot or unable to eat)
  • feel worthless or guilty
  • does not seem to care for the future
  • thoughts of death or suicide
  • sleeping too much or too little

What do I do?

If you suspect that your child is depressed, try talking to them - show them that they can come to you and talk any time they want to. It is important that you tell them over and over again that you are there to support them. Reassure them of your love and acceptance of them because sometimes when children are depressed they may feel unworthy of your love or attention. Their view of the world may be very negative at the moment.

How do I help my child?

  1. Get him or her properly diagnosed and seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist.
  2. Enlist the help of his or her teachers at school.
  3. Make sure your child has a healthy diet and engages in some physical activity. Encourage them to play some sports, may it be badminton, or football or gymnastics, dance or swimming. Even simple bike rides and walks can help them feel better.
  4. Remind your child that you are there for them - offer your love and support. Reassure them that no matter what they tell you, you will never stop loving them.
  5. Remember never force them to “snap out of it”. When he or she is unable to complete their chores or homework it is not because they are lazy.

Watching a child being depressed is very hard on any parent because as parents we often feel that our job is to ensure our children’s happiness. Feelings of guilt may engulf you and you may feel it is all your fault that your child is sad. You may start think “What did I do?” or “What did I not do?” Be aware of your own feelings while you are dealing with your child’s depression.

About the Author

Kopi Soh has a MA in Psychology, Specializing in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling. Her area of specialty is in working with children, adolescents, couples and families. She is also an artist and has published two self-help best sellers distributed by MPH, available in all bookstores throughout Malaysia.