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Recognizing Depression and Anxiety in Children

by: Collette Dawson-Loveless, LCSW, RPT-S, EMDR Certified, NF Trained

 

All children experience stress and sadness as a part of normal everyday life. We are wired for learning and growth and healthy children are  typically resilient and adapt quickly. But sometimes we see children get stuck in ways of coping that hurt them or others or their relationships.

 

You are the expert on your child. Trust your gut.

 

First Lady of Utah Jeanette Herbert has a wonderful initiative you can find at upliftfamilies.org  Her tagline is “When parents lead, kids succeed.” I love that.  It is true in many facets of family life.

Kids look to mom and dad to set the tone in the home and to help coach them through big feelings that they are unfamiliar and overwhelming.

 

What are the symptoms to watch for:

  • A marked change in state that persists for a week or more
  • Increase in intensity or frequency of emotion including tearfulness, anger, aggression
  • Reaction does not match the situation
  • Acting out
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Change in appetite
  • Increased complaints of tummy aches and head aches

 

We can help our kids to calm their systems down when he practice the technique taught by Dr. Daniel Siegel in his new book “The Yes Brain”. He suggests we invite our kids to join us by placing one hand on our belly and one on our chest and notice the breath. Doing this exercise regularly increases the window of tolerance and the ability to get back to the calm of the green zone.

 

Other things that will help to decrease stress in daily life:

  • Mindfulness Practices
  • Yoga
  • Slowing down (reduce extracurricular activities)
  • Schedule downtime on the Calendar
  • Limit screen time and monitor content
  • Enjoy at least one meal together each day with no screens at the table
  • Practice good sleep hygiene including keeping phones and tablets out of the bedroom

 

When to seek professional help:

If symptoms persist for more than a week or so, get an assessment. A play therapist can assess the mental health and wellbeing of a child in just a few sessions. Play Therapy is more effective than talk therapy for children as it speaks to their natural ability to work through issues by playing it out.

 

Call our office today if you have any questions or need further information. 801-785-1169