How to know when kids are more than just sad

Local News

Depression is a common condition affecting 16 million Americans.

October is National Depression Awareness Month. For parents and teachers, it is important to learn the signs and symptoms of childhood depression.

Parents monitor their children at home, but many kids spend most of their day at school. Jody Klase, with Valley Counseling Center, said anxiety and depression are more prevalent these days, which means teachers and counselors could be the first person to recognize something is wrong.  

“The schools are doing a fantastic job in helping to identify those disorders and helping to get them the treatment they need,” Klase said.

Statistics show that 1 in 5 children have a mental health disorder. Children are not as articulate as adults in expressing their emotions. Adults shouldn’t expect them to say “I’m depressed.”

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Change in mood, sleep or eating
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Tired
  • Angry

Depression goes beyond feelings of sadness. Klase said there comes a time when a mental health professional needs to step in.

“All children from time to time are sad. All children from time to time are lonely. But when it becomes a persistent issue when those symptoms are persistent more than two weeks at a time then it is important to reach out to a health care provider or mental health agency,” Klase said.

The next step would be teaching coping skills and helping them to manage feelings. Depression is a medical condition that should be taken seriously.

“It is important to treat depression just like you would if your child had a cold, the flu, an ear infection, those things aren’t going to cure themselves and depression won’t cure itself either,” Klase said.

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