During the COVID-19 pandemic, parents have carried heavy burdens of stress and responsibility. Not only worrying about themselves but also watching their children struggle.
There is a growing worldwide concern about depression and suicide among our youngest population, but the signs of depression in children can be different than those in teenagers and adults.
Joan Luby, MD says that depression can arise as early as age three.
Pandemic isolation, struggling with virtual schooling, and family-related stress all contributed to a rise in mental health concerns for children. According to mental health America, last year, more than 2.3 million kids suffered from severe depression.
“The thing that we have to look for are age-adjusted manifestation of those symptoms,” Luby, explained.
Symptoms of depression in youth include being persistently sad or irritable over several weeks, sleep disturbances, fatigue, no longer enjoying the things they use to enjoy, not being motivated to engage in activity, expressing negativity toward themselves or others, and discussing thoughts of death. The key to helping children fight off depression.
Luby recommends parents to be very aware of their child’s emotional state.
If you notice these signs in your child, get help immediately. Also, spend more time outside, take walks, play outdoor games, and get them involved in social activities.
Depression may be more treatable early in life during a time of rapid brain development and developmental change. Early treatment can help to avoid relapses, personality and medical disorders later in life.
Warning signs to look out for in your child:
- Isolation or refusal to attend school;
- Changes in eating habits;
- Withdrawal from peers or social activities;
- Withdrawal from extracurricular activities at school or in the community; and/or
- Reports of bullying, harassment, or intimidation in school, the community, or on social media.
SalusCare has a weekly zoom support group for parents. It’s free and you do not need to be a client. It’s Monday nights at 7 p.m. Zoom ID: 975 9545 3712 Password: 488302
SalusCare Emergency Services (239)275-4242
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255
If you or a loved one are struggling, you can find support by visiting resources on the NAMI website.
For a comprehensive list of resources and organizations, you can visit This is My Brave.
For additional tools, including a treatment locator, you can visit the CDC’s mental health web page.
- FGCU Community Counseling Center
- National Alliance on Mental Illness, Collier County
- National Alliance on Mental Illness, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry counties
- Lee Health – Behavioral Health
- Lee Health Foundation’s – ‘Kids Minds Matter’
- Lee County Mental Health Court
- Collier County Mental Health Court
- Charlotte County Mental Health Court
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- Local Support Groups: Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Mental Health and Addiction Insurance Help)
- Southwest Florida Resource Link
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Talking to kids about suicide