“My child is so young. How can she be de­pressed?”

Herworld (Malaysia) - - HER STORY -

Y : One of the more re­cent sta­tis­tics com­ing from the US es­ti­mates that by the year 2020, chil­dren as young as three may be di­ag­nosed with clin­i­cal de­pres­sion – on the heels of a fiveyear-old child meet­ing the cri­te­ria in the early 2000s. Most peo­ple will ask what a four- or five-year-old has to be de­pressed about. De­pres­sion and anx­i­ety are, of course, linked to chem­i­cal im­bal­ances. Chil­dren aren’t strangers to emo­tional up­sets – it’s just a bit trick­ier to suss out as they don’t un­der­stand why they feel a cer­tain way, but they are very af­fected by fam­ily dy­nam­ics and peer re­la­tion­ships. As an adult, if some­one doesn’t want to be your friend, you know it’s not the end of the world be­cause you’ve had decades of life ex­pe­ri­ences and ex­ist in mul­ti­ple en­vi­ron­ments – such as home, work, your favourite sport­ing club, etc. But for these young ones, sin­gu­lar en­vi­ron­ments like home or school carry more bear­ing, and as such, their friend not want­ing to be their friend is pretty much the end of every­thing.

“Yes, it’s nor­mal.” Like adults, kids will have an emo­tional re­ac­tion to spe­cific events – es­pe­cially if they’ve been trau­matic or up­set­ting, such as a di­vorce or death in the fam­ily. Changes in tem­per­a­ment are nor­mal should they oc­cur within that par­tic­u­lar time­frame or in suc­ces­sion from such an event.

“Should I be wor­ried?” If your child is usu­ally quite so­cial but is sud­denly with­drawn and no longer en­gages her­self in things she usu­ally finds fun – it is likely mal­adap­tive. Keep an eye out for changes in her rou­tine. Have her eat­ing habits changed? Is she sleep­ing too much or too lit­tle? Are her grades slip­ping? Tem­po­rary changes are al­right, but if a pat­tern’s de­vel­oped, steps need to be taken to en­sure it doesn’t con­tinue.

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