09 February 2011

When hugs are not enough

A once light hearted child becomes withdrawn, or a bully on the playground. These are symptoms that may prompt a parent to ask: "Does my child have a mental illness?"

A once light hearted, engaging child becomes sulky and withdrawn, or irritable and a bully on the playground. A lack of interest in schoolwork and a drop in school performance. A parent cannot seem to "get through" to a child to discuss what is wrong and tension in the family rises. These are all symptoms that may prompt a parent to ask themselves, "Does my child have a mental illness?"

Responsive to treatment
When recognised early and diagnosed accurately, depression is highly responsive to treatment. Still, each episode of this recurrent illness tends to increase the likelihood that episodes of illness will recur. Thus, depression must be treated and managed with an eye toward the long term.

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness and crying
  • Increased irritability, anger or hostility
  • Hopeless - a preoccupation with depressing or nihilistic song lyrics
  • Decreased interest or enjoyment in once-favourite activities
  • Low energy - persistent boredom
  • Frequent complaints of physical illness, for example headaches and stomach-aches
  • Poor communication with family and friends - social isolation
  • Low self-esteem, feelings of guilt, oppositional behaviour, negative thinking
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Inability to concentrate - poor performance in school and frequent absences
  • Changes in sleep habits - excessive late night TV viewing or refusal to wake in the morning
  • Changes in eating habits - failure to gain weight as normally expected, bulimia or anorexia
  • Talk of running away from home or efforts to do so
  • Thoughts or expression of suicide or self-destructive behaviour




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