I Never Associated Depression With Children

We knew our son had some serious emotional problems and we didn’t know how to deal with it, so we went to the family doctor for help. He referred us to the Child and Adolescent Clinic.

Here was a talented and bright 8-year-old who had a lot going for him but he was never proud or pleased with his achievements and he was very unhappy. We just wanted him to be happy and enjoy being a child.

When the Child Psychiatrist diagnosed him with depression, I was surprised, even though his symptoms fit. I never associated ‘depression’ with children, only with adults. What do children have to be depressed about? Children are supposed to be carefree and enjoying their childhood. We never realized how much he worried about things and took everything so seriously. Little things said in a joking way would be taken literally to heart.

We had to learn different ways to treat him. We had to use a more gentle approach and choose our words carefully. The doctor explained to us that it was like he was walking around with an open wound and he was very vulnerable. When he did something that he should be pleased with or proud of, he wasn’t because his self-esteem was so low.

We went through guilt feelings of what did we do wrong. How could we have an older son who was well adjusted and a younger one who seemed so messed up? This seemed so new and strange to us.

Our son has been on medication for depression for the past two years. Life isn’t perfect in our family by any means, but then again, whose family is?

There are major improvements though. Our son is laughing again and making new friends. He is taking pride in his accomplishments even though he is still very hard on himself and wants to do better. As a family, our communication has improved and we are more open to each other about our feelings and those of others.

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