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Is your Child Really Depressed?


This blog post has been contributed by Guest Blogger Tarang Sinha, who also blogs at www.tarangsinha.blogspot.in.

Depression in teenagers

Image source: Google images

Recently, one of my family friends called me and said, “I am sending Manali (Her 17 year-old daughter) to your place. Please talk to her. She doesn’t talk to me. She does not eat properly. She spends most of her time alone. I think she is depressed.”

I never noticed any signs of depression in Manali. We often chat and laugh together. She asks for some good books to read. She eats properly at my place. Yes, she is a bit introvert but depressed? I was confused. What could be the possible reason for her odd behavior at home?

She arrived and even though I was meeting her after long time, I didn’t find any oddly different signs. She came to the kitchen while I was preparing dinner and asked if she could help me.

“No, it’s almost done. Thanks for asking. It means you help your mom in the kitchen and it’s good.” I said.

“Yes, sometimes.” She smiled wanly and stood there talking to me.

“So, do you ever talk to your mom like this?” I tried to broach the main subject.

“Umm..not really.”

“Why?” I asked without looking at her. I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable.

“She never talks to me sweetly. Always scolds me for my studies and cleanliness. No one replies straight. Not even Pinky.” She referred to her younger sister. I could sense sadness in her eyes and voice.

There! I had touched the weak point. I somehow knew this. I have seen her mother shouting and abusing her, even in front of an outsider. Manali never replies and has become meek. Maybe she tries to live alone to save herself from her mother’s shouting and abuses.

“Okay, but you should talk to your mom and share your feelings, like you’re sharing with me. How would she understand your feeling if you won’t tell her?” I told her, finally directly looking at her. At the same time, I made a mental to-tell-her list for her mother.

Here it goes:

  • When your teenagers interact with people, have a friend circle, read or enjoy music, they are certainly not depressed.
  • Don’t go overboard while being a disciplinarian. I understand your worries but too much strictness can create an unpleasant distance between you two. You want to make her disciplined not docile. Never use harsh or abusive language for her. No, it is not okay even if you are her mother. It may hurt her deeply. She will seek tenderness and affection somewhere else, and I don’t think any mother would like that.
  • Converse with your daughter. Understand, at this stage teenagers might go through some changes. Adopt a friendly attitude and make her comfortable to share her feelings with you.
  • Spend some good time together. Involve her in some household works with you, so that you can work, talk, laugh, and enjoy togetherness. Ask about their friends, teachers, or studies. It’s not odd when you talk about movies sometimes.
  • If you scold her for her mistakes, appreciate and reward her for good qualities and achievement.
  • Please stop comparing your children! It is perfectly okay if Manali is shy and introvert. Never belittle your elder child in front of younger one. It may tamper her self-esteem. Don’t act partial. Every child has his/her own qualities. Learn to respect and try to chisel it.
  • Change your menu sometimes. Who wants to eat that boring meal every day? Ask about her choice and prepare good food for her. You may invite her friends sometimes.

You may get worried and anxious when you notice these symptoms in her:

  • When she behaves irritably all the time.
  • When she doesn’t interact at all.
  • When she doesn’t find music, sports, books interesting.
  • When she sleeps less.
  • When she talks about negative and sad things.

For now, she is NOT depressed!

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ParentEdge is a bi-monthly magazine for discerning Indian parents who would like to actively contribute to their children’s education, intellectual enrichment and stimulation. The magazine’s premise is that learning is a continuous process, and needs to happen both in and outside of school; thus parents have an important role to play in shaping their children’s interests and intellect.


One thought on “Is your Child Really Depressed?

  1. Aparna Samuel Balasundaram

    Tarang, am so glad you brought this to the notice of parents…we often think that only adults suffer from depression or other mood disorders and childhood is all about sunshine and pure joy!
    Clinically it has been proven that children and adolescents can have depression. At the same time parents, please note that depression should not be confused with normal moodiness!
    If the sadness [crying spells, fatigue, death wishes, lack of concentration, feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and helplessness] or the disruptive behaviour [irritability] is persistent, and interferes with your child’s normal social activities, hobbies/ interests, schoolwork, family life and the ADL’s are significantly impacted [Activities of Daily Living] which means that your child is sleeping, eating excessively or less, then I would suggest you seek professional help for your child.
    Most importantly remember, depression is treatable.

    Reply

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