As a school-based therapist, part of your responsibility is accurately identifying students who show signs of depression – as well as making their loved ones aware and helping to steer them in the proper treatment direction. Accurately diagnosed, depression can be successfully managed. But left unattended, its consequences can be devastating or even fatal.
Signs of Depression
Children with symptoms of depression show behaviors that cause them severe distress and can manifest as problems in social relationships and difficulties at school. Watch for:
- Intense sadness, irritability, anger or grouchiness. Sadness may be expressed through frequent bouts of crying or tearfulness.
- Loss of interest in friends or daily activities that they formerly enjoyed. Difficulty with relationships may intensify into extreme emotions or hostility.
- Hopelessness, persistent boredom, guilt, or low self-esteem or energy.
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure.
- Frequent complaints of feeling ill, especially with a stomach or head ache. High absenteeism.
- Unusually poor concentration or academic performance.
- Talk of running away from home or resorting to suicide or other self-destructive behavior.
What You Can Do
When compared to their peers, students suffering from depression are not only more prone to being self-destructive, but they also are more likely to have unprotected sex or become substance abusers.
All children are naturally sad sometimes, but when their symptoms last for an unusually long time and interfere with their normal functioning, it’s time to step in and take action. Learn to identify their cries for help – and when they need immediate attention from you and/or other mental health specialists.
- Actively observe the behavior of students whom you suspect may have depression. Consider how they behave alone and with peers, inside the classroom and on the playground.
- Provide resources. Work with teachers, parents and other adults significant in the lives of your students. As you guide them down a treatment path, you can utilize and offer resources such as ChildrensMentalHealthMatters.org, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at www.aacap.org, the National Association of School Psychologists at www.nasponline,org, and the National Institute of Mental Health at www.nimh.nih.gov.
For additional resources to add to your school-based therapy toolkit, or to take your career to the next level as you plan ahead for the future, contact the Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services team. We’re therapists ourselves – and we can assist as you realize your ongoing career goals.