Depression in young children

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Depression in young children

Post by babblebeth » 04 Aug 2015, 14:42

This is a painful topic but looking for support. My beautiful, sensitive, caring 6 year old child is depressed.

To be clear this isn't a case of him being bullied, or trouble at school or a problem at home. He himself struggles understanding it because he "doesn't know why (he's) sad, it's just no reason"

It's not surprising considering I was first diagnosed at 3 and in general there is a huge documented family history stretching back 5 generations of mental illness.

He's already seeing the school counsellor on a weekly basis during term time and we're speaking to the doctor again soon. No one wants him medicated at his age and my husband and I are trying to give him as much one on one time as possible but I feel helpless and because it's my messed up genetics I also feel very guilty. I struggle to know how best to help him because while I know what works for me I have trouble translating into what will help him.

I just want to do right by him :(
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Re: Depression in young children

Post by ShadowCat » 05 Aug 2015, 07:41

It's never easy to see a child struggle when they could be carefree and happy. That remains the same, whether your child is young or adult. In young children it can be harder because of the way society treats them (and their parents).

I'm not a parent myself, but I've been a child maybe not unsimilar to your kid. I'm speaking mostly from that experience so please don't assume everything I say does directly apply to your family too. When I was 6, now 30 years ago, the recommended path for parents to follow was to kick your kid in the butt and tell them to toughen up and stop whining. In that sense, a lot has changed since then. Some for the good, some for the worst. I think it's wonderful that cases of depression and psychological imbalances are recognised in young children. On the other hand, on the Netherlands the latest "fashion" is to pidgeonhole each kid at an early age and give them special-needs classifications for every bit of character that doesn't fit the mold. I think that is completely overshooting the target. Sometimes a bit of a kick in the pants can be just what the doctor ordered.

Since depression is a large scale from "I'm feeling unexplainably sad while going through everyday life" to complete shutdown and "just let me sit in the dark and be miserable" and beyond, it's very hard to gage the level of depression accurately from just reading your post.

Lighter levels depressions can often coincide with things like energetic sensitivy (feeling other peoples turmoil as your own which can be very confusing and draining), lack of certain nutrients (for young children I'm thinking high DHA fishoils as a first go-to) to just a part of a person's character that can be both a weakness or a strength, depending on how they learn to handle it. I'm thinking that many great artists and philosophers must have been children that didn't fit the mold of "carefree childhood". If you do one thing, please never underestimate your child or allow others to do so: there is greatness in everyone.

Are there activities when your kid's eyes light up? For me, it was being with horses (and animals in general) that got me through childhood. Those where the moments that I felt free, alive, not locked up in this odd mind of mine. I still have a most vivid memory of showering after a day of being at the stables, looking out of the window and just appreciating the sun shining for the first time without any grumbling from within. I was about 8-ish at that time. Then I realised I could (even for a fleeting moment) be free of this shadow. Since then I've learned to accept the tides of my mood as a natural part of me and learned to handle it bit by bit. So finding activities that give those fleeting moments of pure joy can be very healing, even if the lightness does fade.

Also, when a child is sensitive, bullying can't be discounted to easily. Kids are rather ruthless in homing in on other childrens weaknessess. So, while there was no bullying in my childhood that was visible and recognisable to my parents, there was bullying all the same. Subtle exclusion or "harmless" pranks can be very disturbing to a sensitive person. Also, personally I've always been very sensitive to people who are not authentically kind: when the world sees a person as friendly to you and all you want to do is run from them because you get a "wrong" vibe of them, it's very confusing at the least.

Lastly: When you worry that you passed on some of your genetics to your son and blame yourself for this, I can say but one thing Babblebeth "this isn't about you". I"m not trying to be cruel or harsh but your guilty energy won't help you or your son one bit. Please understand that I meant to say those words in a spirit of loving honesty. Those feelings you have are yours, they are genuine and I understand that you can have them. But please try to work through these feelings seperate from your boy's balancing process. Your "messed up genetics" may have given your son a sensitivity that causes a struggle now (and maybe later in life too at some point), but they will also give him the great potential to be a sensitive, wellrounded, thoughtful man later in life.

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Re: Depression in young children

Post by DaRC » 06 Aug 2015, 10:09

I reckon you need to help him find interests that keep him satisfied... for example walks in the countryside, cycling or gardening (I know he's only six so things will move about a bit).

I know a lot of cyclists who have suffered with depression and riding your bike at best kicks in the adrenalin and endorphines that bring back joy to life and at worst the focus required for off road riding provides respite from the nagging negativity of it.

Gardening too seems to provide that focus and element of satisfaction that helps sufferers (just look at Monty Don).

There does seem to be a theme of outdoor exercise helping to combat depression.
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Re: Depression in young children

Post by Green Raven » 07 Aug 2015, 00:07

Shadowcat’s message is full of empathy, wisdom and compassion. Don’t blame yourself for ‘messed up genetics’ - depression is the common cold of psychological illnesses. It’s triggers and circumstances, and we can all find ourselves there. You have made sure that your son is interacting with a good qualified counsellor specialising in children, is being assessed by a medical professional and you are working with them. That means that you are a wonderful mother who is doing all the right things for her boy.

There are many activities that accompany the therapies - interacting with animals, walking (or cycling) in beautiful places, singing and other music, painting and crafts. Everything in time and when he feels up to it.

For all: I watched a TEDx talk a few months ago and found it very insightful into the thoughts, feelings and needs of someone who suffers from clinical depression. The speaker is a psychology professional with a long history of the illness. It steers us away from common fallacies found in newspapers and magazines, remains a positive message for helpers and carers, whilst travelling deeply into the place that needs medical intervention: ... sion-and-2
“Listen, O little pig! are not the buds of thorns
Very green, the mountain beautiful, and beautiful the earth?”
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