Physical and mental health are key elements affecting human well-being and daily functioning. We've all experienced intense sadness, depression or irritation at times. Emotions are natural and automatic reactions that occur in response to specific events. However, sometimes emotions turn into longer-lasting moods and feelings that are difficult to deal with on your own.
February 23rd is Poland's National Day for Combating Depression. On this occasion, I invite you to take a look at what depression is and what challenges it brings both for people experiencing it and their relatives.
What is depression?
Depression in case of children and adolescents may have a slightly different picture, the main symptoms are:
- feeling sad, depressed, empty, irritated, even irritated for weeks or months,
- mood swings within the day,
- loss of interests, pleasure, lack of desire to play,
- difficulty in motivating yourself to perform daily activities,
- feeling of constant fatigue,
- lack of appetite or excessive appetite,
- sleeping disturbances,
- problems with concentration and focusing on learning,
- low self-esteem,
- no desire to spend time with family and friends,
- negative thinking about yourself and the future,
- suicidal thoughts and self-harm may appear.
The causes of depression
Nowadays, there are three main factors influencing the development of depression:
- Biological - genetic factors, chronic diseases, addictions (to psychoactive substances, but also behavioral addictions, e.g. to computer games), disorders of neurotransmission in the brain.
- Psychological - e.g. difficulties at school, in relationships (e.g. bullying), difficulties in adapting to a new place, pressure related to evaluation, traumatic or highly stressful events. The reaction to these types of events largely depends on the sensitivity of the person, coping resources.
- Environmental - e.g. material difficulties, upbringing, violence in close surroundings.
How can I help a child suffering from depression?
- Let's talk! This can be difficult for both parent and child; suffering from depression, children often do not feel like talking, they get irritated quickly, they are irritable. Older children and adolescents can often show that they do not want help, so try to provide support and willingness to help.
- Don't cheer, understand the emotions. Saying "don't be sad" won't help, on the contrary - it's a kind of denial of emotions that appear. A better way is to ask about emotions and accept them - each of us has a right to them.
- Contact your GP. It is worth making sure that the child does not suffer from a somatic disease that may have similar symptoms to depression (younger kids may develop atypical symptoms of depression, such as those resembling a cold, headache, wetting or regression).
- Consult a specialist. No doubts - time is very important. The sooner the suffering person receives help, the better, so don't wait too long. You can get professional help from psychiatrists, psychologists or psychotherapists - each of them will be able to assess the mental state of a suffering person and refer them to appropriate treatment.
Depression affects more and more people, often causing serious difficulties in everyday life. It is worth seeking help from a specialist when you observe the first symptoms that bother you. Depression is a real disease, it is said that in Poland it can affect up to 20% (!) of young people. Proper diagnosis and treatment give you a chance to recover and restore a satisfying life.
Author: psychologist Karolina Ciesielka
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- Hammen, C., 2006. Depresja. Gdańskie Wy- dawnictwo Psychologiczne
- World Health Organization. Depression (WHO, 2018)
- World Health Organization. 2017. Depression and other common mental disorders: global health estimates.