How to Recognize Childhood Depression

Every parent wants their child to be happy and healthy. They want them to play with friends and to be carefree. Unfortunately, not every child feels this way. Some children may struggle with mental health issues such as depression.

Thursday, May 5, is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and is a perfect opportunity for parents to speak to their children about the importance of emotional and behavioral health.

“Noticing the signs of depression in children can be viewed in two ways,” said Amanda Chahalis, MSW, on-site school clinician with the Children’s MOSAIC Project, a program of Memorial Behavioral Health—Springfield Children’s Center. “The first, the one we typically think of, is feeling sadness more often than not and having a loss of interest or pleasure in everyday things. The second is becoming easily irritated and having difficulty controlling anger.”

Here are a few warning signs that a child may be experiencing depression:

  • Showing irritability or anger
  • Feeling down or having a lack of interest in things
  • Isolating oneself from peers and family
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Yelling or crying without reason

Many parents will say their child, especially teens, demonstrate these symptoms of depression on a regular basis. So what’s normal and when should a parent be concerned?

“Please keep in mind how long the symptoms have been going on, how often they are happening and if there is some other reason your child could be showing these behaviors, such as grieving the loss of a loved one or moving to a new school,” Chahalis said.

If your child is exhibiting symptoms of depression, seek professional help.  Schedule an appointment with a mental health professional for an assessment. If you believe your child is in crisis and in need of immediate assistance, call the CARES Line at 1-800-345-VOICE (9049).

At Memorial Behavioral Health, we understand how emotional or mental health issues affect your life. Our caring team provides help, hope and the path to wellness–close to home in central Illinois.

Amanda Chahalis, MSW

Amanda Chahalis, MSW, is an on-site MOSAIC school clinician with the Children’s MOSAIC Project, a program of Memorial Behavioral Health – Springfield Children’s Center. Amanda is trained in school social work and trauma-based behavioral health interventions. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from University of Louisville and her Master of Social Work from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

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