Depression In Toddlers
Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash
The suicide commitment by Sushant Singh Rajput, a Bollywood actor who was suffering from severe depression has highlighted the much ignored issue of depression among people.
Depression is not an uncommon word in the present day. As per World Health Organization (WHO), more than 264 million people are living with this common illness worldwide. However, until recently, it was believed by scientists and psychiatrists that toddlers cannot undergo depression. This theory was supported by the fact that children as young as 3-5 years of age haven't developed emotions and cognition to feel depressed. But the recent studies have contradicted this theory.
A 2009 report, titled 'Preschool Depression' claimed that children of the age 3 may have signs of depression. These signs are not similar to that of the depressed adults which poses a challenge for specialists in diagnosing it in toddlers. Let us know Preschool depression better.
Characteristics of Depression among toddlers:
- Behavioural Problems- frequent sadness and crying, irritable and sulky, lack of energy and enthusiasm, extreme sensitivity to failure
- Health Issues: frequent illness
- Excessive Fears- hesitant to socialize, scared to go out of their comfort zones
- Difficulty in achieving developmental milestones- poor concentration, bedwetting, poor performers at school
How to Differentiate Between Depression and a Tantrum?
Toddlers throw tantrums that are a part of their development as they are learning to control their emotions and dealing with frustration. Therefore, tantrums of appropriate frequency and level should be considered normal.
However, if these appear more frequently and are more intense as for their age, then it might be due to depression. Another indicator of depression is that the tantrums are thrown out as a consequence of an emotional or social event that leaves a mark on their mind. Observing these in children prompts for a visit to a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
Why is it Important to Treat Pre-school Depression?
Studies have shown that a depressed toddler is more susceptible to be depressed later on in life. This is however, not necessary as resilience is always possible. If treatment is provided at the right time, then depression in adult life can be prevented.
Parents Role in Preventing or Treating Depression
- Avoid saying 'NO' to toddlers every now and then: It has been observed, since toddlers are in the developmental stage of exploring the world around them, they are likely to make a mess all the time. This tends the parents to stop children from doing what they want to. When the young ones hear 'NO' everytime they are up to something this makes them disappointed and hence this should be avoided by parents.
- Say Positive Affirmations: Instead of tagging your children as bad boy/girl, tell them that they are good and would follow what their parents say. This has shown positive results in promoting young children to actually do what they are asked to.
- Appreciate: Children as young as one year old have an appetite for appreciation. A little clap or 'Good Job' boosts their morale and they gradually learn what they are expected to do and what is wrong.
- Listen to them: Young children have a lot to say to their parents. It is often observed that when children grow up they slowly start talking less. This is due to the fact that they learn that their parents do not have time to listen to what they have to say. This many times creates void in their lives and eventually leads to depression due to suppressed emotions. So the next time your children want to talk to you, have all ears to them.
- Spend time with them: Depression is often found in people who experience loneliness. So parents must take care that they don't let their children experience that they are alone. Also while spending this family time, any complaints or negative comments should be avoided to make it a happy one. Children should look forward to enjoying this time instead of finding reasons to sneak out of the moment.
Let us make sure our kids grow up well by bringing them up right and devoting our time to them.
Manjot Kaur is a Vice-Principal of a leading school in Punjab, India. She has been teaching Science to secondary school students since years. Being a teacher as well as a mother alongwith the passion for writing directed her towards blogging. Her interests include studying psychology and doing art and craft projects.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.