Could your child be battling depression?


My son was four when we lost our daughter Kathryn. He didn’t really understand everything about it, but he knew we were supposed to bring home two babies, and only one would eventually come home. He was angry, confused, and sad. For almost a year he would make comments like: “Mommy, I wish Kathryn was here,” and “We were supposed to have two babies.”

Over the last year or two, I’ve noticed an increase in outbursts and a high level of sensitivity. I’m not sure how much of it is his own personality, and how much of it is him trying to process all that he’s gone through. But the other day scared me.

He came home from school and was pretty upset about some kids picking on him throughout the day.

He sat down and wrote this song:

All I know is pain

He assured me that he doesn’t really believe he’s had a very bad life, it’s just what he used to describe his day, but it still broke my heart.

I couldn’t help but wonder how much of this stems from grief. Not only the loss of his sister, but in some respects, the loss of his mother for a period of time.

It just happens to be Mental Health Awareness Month, so I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of the signs of depression in children.

I found a fantastic article on WebMD that lists the following:

Signs and symptoms of depression in children include:

  • Irritability or anger.
  • Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection.
  • Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased.
  • Changes in sleep — sleeplessness or excessive sleep.
  • Vocal outbursts or crying.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Fatigue and low energy.
  • Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that don’t respond to treatment.
  • Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Impaired thinking or concentration.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

While it says it is VERY rare for a child under twelve to attempt suicide, it has happened.

More importantly, often these signs get overlooked in children because they can all be normal in young children as well.

I don’t want to project emotions and feelings on my son, but at the same time, I think it’s important to be aware of what he might really be feeling. Since he wrote this, we’ve had a lot of conversations about his feelings. I’ve hugged him extra and told him I love him frequently.

For now, that’s all I can do.

Have any of your children experienced depression? What did you do?