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Question
Posted by: Purple | 2010-09-01

depression in children

Hi CS,

Hope you are well.
I''m quite concerned about my son. He has asked to stop an extra mural which he''s always loved and last night at story time he told me that he was sad a lot. I asked if there was a reason he was sad, but he said that there wasn''t, he just felt sad most of the time.
I suggested we find things to be glad about, but despite encouragement, only I was coming up with suggestions and he was answering that he was only sort of glad about those things.
The extra mural teacher contacted me this morning to say that she is worried about my son, because she''s noticed that for the last few weeks he''s withdrawing during activities. She said she hasn''t pushed him to participate but on Friday she kept him back and told him that if he has a problem, that he can talk to me or to her and that we will be able to help.
He siad he knows he can talk to us but didn''t open up to her and then ran off to play.

He has a special friend and a group of friends he plays with regularly and he''s still enjoying the sport that he does.

I know that children can get depressed and that more and more research is being done in this area, and I''m concerned that he might be a bit depressed.

My husband and I are fighting a lot, and although my husband refused to leave the house and claims that he is getting help for his alcoholism, and is attending sports matches, playing with our son more and so on, every weekend he still binge drinks, and my son sees him falling asleep, stumbling around, slurring his words and saying nonsensical things. He also sees how upset I get about it and I''m certain he must hearing us fighting once he''s in bed as during hte week when my husband is sober I tell him precisely what I''m unhappy about. I''ve recorded him as you suggested and played it back to him when he is sober.
His stock response is that its unacceptable and he''s sorry - and then he just does it again.
He tells me that the great positives in terms of him fathering and all his other good points should outweight that.
I think he is completely delusional.

The problem is I don''t actually want to leave him as he is a good person. The problem with his drinking is that he is stupid and annoying.
However, if this is the cause of my sons issues then I will leave as I no longer love my husband the way I did when he wasn''t an actual alcoholic, and I think my son is more important and I do love my child far more than my husband.
I''ve also never believed that alcoholism is a disease - a disease is something you have no control over, whereas having that drink, deviously hiding beer behind water coolers and microwaves and so on takes conscious thought and action it doens''t just happen.

My son is enjoying his school work, but they''ve just had a student teacher who left and e says he misses her a lot because she was lots of fun.

He''s excited about going to grade 1 and they have tried on uniforms already and he really likes the blazer.
he''s coping fine with his school work, though he is quite a perfectionist so does take a long time to finish things. He is very detail conscious and I think that is part of it too.

I think I''m going to take my child back to our school psychologist (who is fantastic) and see if we can take things from there. (p.s. my son putting things in his underpants turned out to be because he has no pockets in his school pants. He loves collecting things but I" ve got him to put the bark and stones in his schol bag instead).

I wish I could just remove the hurt for my son.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Sorry to hear about all this, P. Yes, indeed, depression does ocur in children, probably more than most of us realize, and it can be treated, though this should be done with a child psychiarist's advice, and not a GP.
YOur husband may be demonstrating, amongst other things, something called State-Dependent Learning - basically, that what we learn or place in memory when under the influence of any drug ( such as alcohol ) tht influiences our mind ) may not be remembered when sober / clean, and may be remembered again when again under the influence.
This is one of the reasons why its a bad idea for kids to study when drunk or high, for instance. And I've long thought that it may be a reason, beyond simple denial, why alcohol abusers don't remember what went wrong when they were drunk ( so it doesn't inhibit them from drinking again ) ; and they may then, when they start to drink again, remmber the mess they made last time, and try to blot out this unwelcome memory by drinking even more.
Yes, drinking makes good people at least foolish people, sometimes even bad. Is he really not open to persuasion that he should seek poper expert help to control his drinking, if he is sincere in the regrets he expresses when sober ?
I love the revelation about the boy and the underpants ! What a brilliant illustration of how as adults we sense sinister possibilities ( why is he stuffing things in his underpants ? )when a child may be simply practical and sensible - if there's no pockets in the new pants, he has to put his stuf somewhere.
So often in life, however much we may want to protect one's child from hurt and the pains of life, this is imposible. What may be more useful, as well as posible, is to use these opportunities to help him to learn to cope with the sadnesses of life. To show that life is still worthwhile even including the sad parts. That may, in the end, be the greater gift.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Purple | 2010-09-01

Thanks disappointed. I like your ideas.

CS has as usual been extremely helpful.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: Disappointed | 2010-09-01

I am so sorry to read about what you are going through. Yes, your son''s wellbeing and happiness is far more important than your husband and his issues. Your son relies on you so heavily at this age that his needs far outweigh your husbands. But boys of this age need to be able to look up to their fathers. Your husband needs to see himself through his son''s eyes. (maybe ask your son to draw a picture of dad or of his family) A friend of mine changed her social life and work schedule when her daughter drew a family picture excluding her mom.

I have a son the same age and my husband and I have also being going through a bad patch. My son heard my husband threatening divorce and screaming at me. I thought he was asleep but he had woken up. I explained to him that sometimes adults fight. But we do make up and things will get better in time. I told him that no matter what happens between Daddy and Mommy we both love him more than anything and he mustn''t worry, mom will sort everything out.

He has mentioned it a few times and children are very perceptive when it comes to the root of the problem. My son picked up immediately what had caused this issue even though we tried not to speak of it or show anger in front of him.

I think the psychologist is a great idea. Also spend some time with your son colouring, kicking a ball and maybe some chasing games. Get him to want to do things, even if it is just with you or a special friend for a while and hopefully he will get back into group activities.

As him to draw his body image (they do it at school a lot). Note the size of his body, when my son is feeling low his body image is small, when he is happier he draws a big boy standing on ''mud'' as he calls it. His less happy self is smaller and floating. One on one time helps them to open up as he did with yu last night.

It sounds like you are a great mom and love your son so much. I am sorry your husband is bringing such ugliness into your home. You both don''t deserve this but actions need to be taken to ensure the happiness of your son. But you know that already.

Best wishes with everything.

Reply to Disappointed
Posted by: PUrple | 2010-09-01

Thanks Maria. Yes, the underpants caused us all such stress at the time and it turned out to be that. I can laugh now though.

Reply to PUrple
Posted by: Maria | 2010-09-01

Oh Purple, that''s so sad. I think your assessment of what is wrong with your son is spot on - he is reacting to the situation at home. I had to chuckle at the underpants story.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010-09-01

Sorry to hear about all this, P. Yes, indeed, depression does ocur in children, probably more than most of us realize, and it can be treated, though this should be done with a child psychiarist's advice, and not a GP.
YOur husband may be demonstrating, amongst other things, something called State-Dependent Learning - basically, that what we learn or place in memory when under the influence of any drug ( such as alcohol ) tht influiences our mind ) may not be remembered when sober / clean, and may be remembered again when again under the influence.
This is one of the reasons why its a bad idea for kids to study when drunk or high, for instance. And I've long thought that it may be a reason, beyond simple denial, why alcohol abusers don't remember what went wrong when they were drunk ( so it doesn't inhibit them from drinking again ) ; and they may then, when they start to drink again, remmber the mess they made last time, and try to blot out this unwelcome memory by drinking even more.
Yes, drinking makes good people at least foolish people, sometimes even bad. Is he really not open to persuasion that he should seek poper expert help to control his drinking, if he is sincere in the regrets he expresses when sober ?
I love the revelation about the boy and the underpants ! What a brilliant illustration of how as adults we sense sinister possibilities ( why is he stuffing things in his underpants ? )when a child may be simply practical and sensible - if there's no pockets in the new pants, he has to put his stuf somewhere.
So often in life, however much we may want to protect one's child from hurt and the pains of life, this is imposible. What may be more useful, as well as posible, is to use these opportunities to help him to learn to cope with the sadnesses of life. To show that life is still worthwhile even including the sad parts. That may, in the end, be the greater gift.

Reply to cybershrink

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