Depression and self-esteem problems in children and adolescents can influence different areas of life including:
Feeling sad or irritable a lot of the time.
Feeling more tired than usual and experiencing difficulties completing daily tasks. Sleeping a lot (or not sleeping at all). Eating a lot (or not having much of an appetite).
Difficulty concentrating on things and difficulty making decisions. Thoughts of worthlessness, hopelessness, or self-critical thoughts.
Loss of interest and pleasure in activities that were enjoyed before. Loss of energy and desire to do much of anything.
Fighting more with family and withdrawing from friends and loved ones
Loss of motivation to do well in school. More difficulty concentrating at school. Difficulty waking up in the morning to attend school.
Frequent headaches or stomach aches.
These difficulties can cause significant distress and impairment for children and their families. If you think your child may be struggling with issues similar to the ones above, the team at ChildForward Inc. will be able to assist you in clarifying the concerns and developing a tailored treatment plan that will lead to the best possible outcome for your family.
When to Seek Help
Everyone experiences times when they feel sad or down, especially when experiencing very difficult or stressful situations (e.g., losing a loved one, fighting with friends). Occasionally, the sadness can become overwhelming and last longer than expected. When this happens, children and adolescents may withdraw from typically enjoyed activities and from family and friends, and they may experience low self-esteem and self-critical thoughts. If you notice that your child is experiencing these symptoms and that it is interfering with their daily lives and the things that are important to your child and your family, it may be time to seek support and explore treatment options.
Won’t My Child Just “Grow Out of It?”
It is possible that depression and problems with self-esteem could improve naturally over time. However, there is a risk that untreated depression can have some serious and potentially long-lasting consequences. Symptoms of depression and low self-esteem may impact a child’s social relationships, school performance, and overall health and well-being. Untreated depression may also lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviours. However, the good news is that there is psychological treatment available that has been shown to be effective for treating depression and to help children and adolescents to live their best lives!
What Can I Expect From Treatment?
Evidence-based treatment for depression includes Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT). In CBT, families are introduced to the idea that thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are all connected (the CBT “triangle”), and that by changing one of these points, the other two also change. Because it is near impossible to simply change how we feel (Imagine feeling sad and then being told to just “Cheer up!” – impossible, not to mention unhelpful!), treatment will focus on behaviours and thoughts, which are typically more amenable to change.
Your child will work with the therapist to get back to doing fun and meaningful things in order to help your child feel good about themselves by experiencing success and positive interactions with others. Your child will also work on catching their negative and self-critical thoughts and will learn to challenge these thoughts to be more realistic and helpful. Your child will also be equipped with tools for managing their emotions in difficult situations, such as learning problem solving, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and effective social skills. Parents play an important role in treatment, and depending on your child’s age and preference, you may be involved in some or all of the sessions. Parents may also meet individually with the therapist to learn more about depression and to learn strategies on how to support your child outside of the therapy office.