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How to Identify Depression Symptoms in Children

Depression in children is an often over-looked topic. Parents want the best for their kids, and children can often be hesitant to talk about their feelings. In this interview Dr. Chandra sat down with Anika Allen at WLTZ NBC38 in Columbus, Georgia to discuss symptoms of depression that parents and caregivers can look for as well as what they can do to help children who suffer from depression.

Below is a full transcript of the interview.

Anika Allen: Well this month is mental awareness month, mental health awareness month and we’ve been discussing that all month. We’ve had several people come on and discuss it, but we haven’t really hit mental health awareness when it comes to children. So joining me again is Dr. Chandra. How are you?

Dr. Chandra: Hey, good morning, Anika.

Anika Allen: I’m great. Okay. So mental health is something we were both passionate about. We discussed it after our last interview. I want to start off by saying why is it so important to you or asking.

Dr. Chandra: I am very, very passionate about mental health. As a pediatrician over the last few years, I’ve just seen the growing needs of children. There’s so much more pathology and the one thing that really strikes me is the gap between when a child gets symptomatic and it how long it is before they can get help. And then once we are able to help them and we come in and we treat them with a combination of medicines and counseling, how amazing and almost transformative are the results that it’s tremendously gratifying. And I love the opportunity to be able to come in and help a child and make a difference.

Anika Allen: Personally for me, we discussed this. I had my own mental health situation. I was bullied and when I was in middle school and it made me suicidal. My mom could tell because of she knew who her daughter was. But for all parents it’s very difficult to maybe see or gauge that your child might be depressed. So what are some signs of depression when it comes to children? Because it’s so hard to just gauge. They’re so happy all the time. Or you know, they deal with mood swings, especially teenagers. So how can you gauge that your child is, they may be depressed?

Dr. Chandra: So you brought up a great point. So firstly, parents know their child the best. So that is absolutely key. And I think a lot of awareness is needed. Sometimes parents are well-meaning. And for example in my office, if I see a teenager and I find out that he or she has been depressed for years and I break that to the parent, they act like they’re completely horrified, surprised, and they’re wondering how could I not have known this?

Dr. Chandra: So some of the common symptoms of depression would be apparent sadness or slowness, a lot of isolation or just staying in their room. Complete lack of interest in something that a child enjoyed previously. Say a child was a dancer and suddenly she drops out and says, “No, I don’t enjoy this anymore.” Or a lot of moody irritability, dropping grades. So these are some of the common symptoms that we could use to help pick up on the diagnosis.

Anika Allen: And honestly, I had all those and I think that’s why my mom was able to, to be able to tell because there would be days I just cried.

Dr. Chandra: Oh.

Anika Allen: Like, thank God that it’s over. But it would be days that I just cried and she was able to gauge and it also helped that she had her friends talk to me. So maybe something I didn’t get from my mother, I got from somebody else. So if it’s a community situation, how can we as a community help children? Should we monitor their social media? Because in my mind, that might play a role. You know, bullying on social media is outstanding. So how can we help as a community with mental health in our children?

Dr. Chandra: So you bring up a great point. I am a firm believer in the old adage, which says it takes a village to raise a child. So it takes a good set of parents, your classroom teachers, aunts, uncles, school coaches, your pediatrician. And it is true that in today’s day and age, sometimes what the child may not divulge or disclose to a parent or a friend, they might just slip in a loose comment on social media. And that might be a very big clue to knowing that the child is depressed. So it is important to manage and review what they’re writing on social media.

Dr. Chandra: Also, what kinds of people they’re talking to on social media. I meet teens who have a virtual friends on social media and these are groups of kids, all they talk about is how to kill themselves, you know, or how to cut themselves. So children develop these virtual friendships and supports of like-minded people on social media. So definitely every parent needs to be monitoring what their child is doing on social media.

End of interview.

If you have any questions about this or any other topic please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Preferred Medical Group is currently accepting new pediatric patients at our offices in Columbus / Phenix CityFort Mitchell, and Opelika. In addition to sick and wellness visits, we offer Behavioral Health counselling and ADHD assessments for children. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us directly or schedule your next visit through our convenient online appointment system.  

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