Depression in children can be difficult for an adult to understand. What does a child have to be depressed about? Aren't children supposed to be carefree? Those questions ignore the chemical component of depression as well as the fact that children are put under stress just as adults are, although their changes in behavior might look different.
A depressed kid might cause trouble at school, for example, instead of acting sad, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Depression requires the help of a trained professional to treat, but here are a few activities that you can help out with:
- Get creative: Some of the world's great artists, musicians and writers have struggled with depression. Finding a creative outlet for depressive feelings channels something negative into something positive. Poems, cartoons, plays, collages, paintings -- art can be a place to explore what depression is and how it feels, especially for kids who have a hard time talking about their emotions.
- Get moving: Depression can sap a person's energy and make it difficult to enjoy the activities he or she used to love. Exercise has been shown effective in curbing some of the symptoms of depression, but the key is keeping things fresh and exciting. If you think of exercise as walking on a treadmill for an hour each day, you're probably not going to be motivated to participate -- a kid feels the same way. Dance, yoga, martial arts, gymnastics, rock climbing, hiking, kickboxing -- even a walk outside is a good start. Depression makes you tired, but it's the kind of tired that no amount of sleep is going to fix. It's better to get up and get moving, and if you can motivate a child dealing with depression to do so, you've won a small battle and gotten those endorphins going.