When a child is stressed, it can sometimes lead to depression. In part two of our video series on children’s mental health during COVID-19, Dr. Margaret Gleason, vice chief of CHKD’s mental health program, explains what depression can look like, what parents can do, and how to seek help. (Part two of four.)
So, depression is one of the many difficulties that Children can develop under stress. Uh, depression can look like what most people think, which is sadness crying more. Um not spending time with peers or family, but can also look like irritability getting angry. And we see that with younger Children, especially, depression tends to bring along with it, trouble with eating, sleeping, concentration, feeling more guilty, blaming a child may blame themselves more than they normally would. And the most dangerous sign of course is talking about self harm. Talking about suicide. Those are all signs of depression. Depression doesn't always travel alone though. Sometimes it comes with anxiety. Sometimes it comes with worsened behavioral difficulties, like talking back or not following directions. What can parents do if they're worried? Their child has depression? The first thing is talk about feelings, Everyone's under stress, everyone has feelings. It's great. It's a great time for parents to help Children learn to name their emotions, name their feelings, say it looks like you're feeling really sad. It's hard to stay calm when we're staying home all the time. Giving Children the words so they can start to use those words for their uh, to explain the experience they're having. Also giving, giving Children some tools, some relaxation strategies can be helpful to breathing is a great one. Other coping strategies can be going outside and making sure that they're exercising, moving around, um talking to practicing and making sure they're talking to their friends, um staying connected even though we can't see each other in person. And then parents do need to be thinking about how to get clinical attention, how to get help. They can call their pediatrician or their pediatric clinician. Uh they can reach out to mental health providers. Many, almost all mental health providers right now are seeing Children by telehealth, making it may be easier to get an appointment and to get a child to be seen. And again, anything that the parents worried about their child safety, they can bring them to the emergency room for an evaluation. 20 were open 24 7 here at C. H. K. D.