It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression in middle school-aged children to help them get the treatment they need. Depression can manifest itself in many different ways, so it is important to be on the lookout for any changes in mood or behavior that seem out of the ordinary.
What is depression in middle school aged children
Depression is a mental disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It can interfere with your ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy activities you once enjoyed. Depression is more than just feeling “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires treatment. middle school-aged children are especially at risk for depression due to the many changes they are experiencing in their lives.
Signs and symptoms of depression in middle school aged children
The signs and symptoms of depression can vary depending on the individual. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Changes in mood or behavior that seems out of the ordinary- If your child suddenly seems more withdrawn, sad, irritable, or angry than usual, this could be a sign of depression. Additionally, if they start exhibiting changes in sleeping or eating habits, this could also indicate that they are struggling with depression.
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions- If your child is having trouble focusing at school or seems more forgetful than usual, this may be a sign that they are depressed. Additionally, if they start making impulsive decisions or taking unnecessary risks, this could be another sign that they need help.
- Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, or worthlessness- If your child seems abnormally down on themselves or is constantly talking about how they are a failure, this could be a sign of depression. Additionally, if they start giving away their possessions or talking about death or suicide, it is important to seek professional help immediately.
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed- If your child used to love going outside to play but now wants to stay inside all the time, this could be a sign that they are depressed. Additionally, if they start skipping school or social activities, this could also indicate that they are struggling. The clinical term “anhedonia” refers to this loss of pleasure: an example could be that that thing that used to give joy – a favorite video game, that double-double at in-n-out -has lost it’s luster.
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not respond to treatment- If your child is complaining of physical symptoms that don’t seem to have a cause, this could be a sign of depression. Additionally, if they start self-harming or engaging in risky behaviors, it is important to seek help immediately.
- Fatigue or a loss of energy- If your child seems more tired than usual or is having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, this could be a sign that they are depressed.
Why are middle schoolers at risk for depression?
There are a number of reasons why middle school-aged children are at an increased risk for depression. These include:
- The physical, social, and emotional changes that occur during puberty and this developmental period
- Academic pressure and the stress of trying to “fit in”
- bullying or social isolation
- Family conflict or divorce
How can parents of middle school aged children help their child with depression?
If you suspect your child is suffering from depression, the best thing you can do is to talk to them about it. Let them know that you are there for them and that they can come to you with anything they are feeling. As school-aged children move into adolescence, it’s often an important yet challenging shifting of roles for parents of not “being the expert.” In this way, when you come with respect and curiosity – sitting next to your child instead of across from them – you further cement their trust in you to discuss difficult things. You can also encourage them to see a mental health professional for help that is outside of the family; where their relationship with their therapist does not exist outside the context of therapy, freeing them up to feel more comfortable talking about things that otherwise they may perceive could impact, upset or compromise relationships with family or friends. Finally, make sure to keep communication open with your child and check in with them regularly.
If you are concerned that your child may be struggling with depression, it is important to talk to them about your concerns and seek professional help if necessary. Depression is a serious mental illness that can have a profound impact on every aspect of life, but with proper treatment, it is possible for children to overcome it and live happy, healthy lives.