Depression is not just something that adults suffer from; depression in children is just as common yet rarely spoken about. Children like adults have a certain way of coping and while some children cope with stressful situations more than others, when that boundary is crossed they find themselves losing control of their normal everyday life.
For depression in children to be treated correctly it is paramount that support is readily available yet I personally do not feel childhood depression is taken as seriously as it should be. I was 13 when I attempted suicide, due to depression; I know all too well how depression in children can affect more than just “their mood”.
Can Children Get Depression?
Common causes of childhood depression stem from a variety of reasons, be that within the family home or at school, parents separating, introducing new step parents. Friendships break down easily and children can suffer badly when they lose a best friend. Bullying is a common cause of childhood depression.
Children have to deal with the everyday stresses of growing up as well as facing more difficult challenges such as a death in the family or the loss of a beloved pet.
In my case it was a mixture of reasons that causes my depression. My parents had separated; my mother could not cope with my behaviour and suggested I move in with my father. My father was a big drinker and he had moved in a new girlfriend. I was also the cruel target of bullies.
Why Is Childhood Depression Not Recognised?
I was struggling at home and at school, I displayed all the symptoms of depression yet nobody noticed. My parents did not seem to even know I was there, the teachers at school were oblivious to the change in behaviour and to the fact I was bullied right under their noses.
Perhaps the teachers did know, yet did not know how to deal with it. Many times a bully was just moved further away from me in the classroom.
I began cutting my wrists, drinking and taking drugs, nothing major but I needed something to help me cope. I was alone and afraid. It was only when I had taken a major overdose that anyone took notice. I was the assigned a child psychiatrist and my parents had to start answering questions.
My own daughter is aged 13, the same age I was when I was diagnosed as suffering from childhood depression, she too has suffered depression and the doctors were easy to dismiss this as hormones. Her behaviour was normal for a rebellious teenager. It was only when she revealed to a parent and student support adviser at school, that she had contemplated taking her own life, did they phone to notify me. Suggesting I take her to the GP, the same GP who weeks earlier had brushed me off.
My daughter’s depression had been triggered by her confusion over her sexuality. Months later she would reveal she was gay. I am angry that had there been support for me and for her earlier, when I asked for it, her suffering could have been stopped earlier.
Do You Feel There Is Enough Support Available When Dealing With Childhood Depression?