There are plenty of things for children to be excited about during the holidays. After all, what’s not to like about days off of school, and presents from Santa? For some children, though, the holidays bring out symptoms of depression. This is something that parents need to be aware of.
You probably are aware that Christmas, and the holiday season that surrounds it, can make many people depressed. For adults, this can stem from worries about finances, and from the stress that is involved in organizing family get-togethers. Adults may also be grieving the loss of loved ones who have passed away, and who will not be around for Christmas this year.
Parents need to be aware that depression is not something that only affects adults. Teenagers, and children, can become clinically depressed. Parents need to take the time to pay close attention to their teens and younger children, for signs of depression. Those signs can take many different forms.
Some teenagers that have a Facebook page, or a Twitter account, will express their depression online. Often, the writing they do about how they are feeling will be cryptic, or will be something that requires people to “read between the lines”. It is a good idea for parents to keep up with what their teen is posting online.
Research shows that teenage girls who are depressed are twice as likely to engage in binge eating, or overeating, than are their peers, (who are not experiencing depression). The same research showed that teens who have started binge eating, or overeating, are twice as likely to become depressed than their peers, who don’t engage in these behaviors.
Parents who notice that their daughters seem depressed should talk to them, and find out if they are using food to make themselves feel better. Teens who are depressed, or teens who have eating disorders, can benefit from access to mental health services.
In addition to adults and teenagers, younger children can become depressed during the holidays. Little kids, who have bad memories of this time of year, can become stressed, which can lead to depression. If your family is dysfunctional, and tends to argue a lot during the holidays, this will affect even young children.
If your child has a special need that includes social anxiety, the holidays can be difficult to cope with. But, even kids who don’t have any special needs can still become depressed at Christmastime. It might not necessarily be a clinical depression, but should still be taken seriously.
Kids who are depressed could express it in a few different ways. They might suddenly be putting a lot of effort into trying to get more attention from parents. Or, the child could completely withdraw, become especially quiet, and appear disinterested in the activities that are going on around them.
Parents tend to forget that children are capable of grieving for loved ones that have passed away. Some children will become depressed if they need to spend time away from one of their parents during the holidays. Again, like with teenagers, parents need to be aware that depression doesn’t only affect adults. Talk to your children, and seek professional help for them if needed.
Image by Brandie on Flickr