Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.’

What do these words mean to us? Doest it cut like a knife? Does it not affect us? Have we not been able to see the signs? Was he someone we knew? Yet we feel awful – How did we miss this? He looked so happy! Lead a full life! How do we help? Who do we help?

For some, sadness can be a difficult emotion to deal with. Not only for the pain thats caused, but also beacause of what causes the sadness. This can be the result of many things – loss of a close one, having it all and not knowing what to do next or even sheer dissapointment, among many other factors. Sadness being the most common and natural emotion we human beings can encounter.

What can we do to help? Especially for our children. The future is them. How do we help them lead a truly happy and satisfied life? Even as adults we can miss the signs sometimes. We are also only human. Here are some signs to watch out for.

• they can fear certain situations or worry constantly and unnecessarily about things • dwell on negative thoughts seem self-conscious, highly sensitive to criticisms and easily embarrassed • need constant reassurance • seem excessively shy and avoid social situations • not want to go to new places, meet new people or try new activities • cling to parents when they try to leave the child at school or in an appropriate social situation • cry every day before school because they don’t want to go, refuse to go on school trips or take part in extracurricular activities • out of character and unexplained sadness or crying • have diffculty concentrating • show nervous habits, like biting fngernails, thumbsucking, or repeating certain behaviours • seem constantly on edge, jumpy or easily scared • appear to be trembling, restless or breathing rapidly • develop excessive attachment to physical things, for example a particular toy, and throw tantrums when this is removed • complain of recurring headaches, stomach aches, nausea or other physical pains without a clear medical cause • not eat as much as usual, or begin to eat a lot more than usual • show changes in sleeping patterns (such as sleeping more than usual, becoming diffcult to wake or having diffculty getting to sleep or staying asleep, having nightmares) • start to show behaviours that they have previously outgrown. • • seem excessively shy and avoid social situations • not want to go to new places, meet new people or try new activities • cling to parents when they try to leave the child at school or in an appropriate social situation.

The presence of a caring adult in a child’s life will always, always help to reduce their risk of depression and anxiety. We have to learn to consistently respond to our children with love and respect. Expressing your love with a hug everyday goes a long way for the child. . We have to learn to encourage them in what ever they decide to take on – make them feel good about themselves. Why do some of us want our children to live our dreams? live up to our unrealistic expectations? They need to be accepted for the beautiful souls that they are! So from today lets make a promise to them – as an aunt, an uncle, a mother, a father, a grandmom, a granddad, a teacher, a caretaker – We will take the time out to talk to our children, to hug them, to encourage them, to respect their views and ideas. Let’s show them that we can give them our full attention when they come to us with the smallest problems. Small to us maybe, but very important to them. And above all lets try and be as patient as we can when listening to them.


Sources: Achenbach, T. (2001). The Child Behaviour Checklist For Ages 6-18, ASEBA, University of Vermont, 1 South Prospect St., Burlington, VT 05401-3456, 6-1-01 Edition – 201.

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