Stress and Depression

            Until recently, there had been a popular misconception that only adults suffered from depression. It is now recognized and  undisputed that children can, indeed, suffer from depression. Actually, children suffering from this disorder have become rampant. It is sometimes difficult to decipher between what is clinical depression and what is reaction to stress. High and prolonged exposure to stress, in many cases, can actually become a cause for depression. In this article, we would like to show the difference between stress and depression and how parents can help their children to deal with both; In the case of stress, to minimize negative effects and capitalize on the positive, and in the case of depression, manage the symptoms more productively in order for speedier recovery.

            The extra agitation of the nervous system that we call stress is an unavoidable part of life for adults and for our children, as well. Although stress at times, makes us feel frustrated and insecure, stress can also be positive. It is a common misconception that all stress is bad, and that stress is the cause of so many illnesses. Stress gives us enthusiasm, interest and motivation. It helps us and prepares us for difficult situations. The real issue lies in stress management. Parents can assist their children in developing this immeasurably important skill of self-regulating stress management.

           Depression is a whole different story. It is an emotional illness. Some of the symptoms of depression are feelings of sadness,  hopelessness and helplessness. Stress can play a role in causing these feelings, but in that case, those negative feelings usually come and go. With clinical depression where stress is not the only factor, those feelings remain and linger, which can almost emotionally paralyze a child. For example, when some stressful event happens be it good or bad, a child can usually shrug it off. A child suffering with depression would not be able to shake the feelings of sadness or fear. These feelings will persist, affecting that child’s quality of life.

            Parents can play an enormous role in helping their children to develop a high tolerance to stress and give an effective approach in dealing with the symptoms of depression. One of the most important things parents can do is to spend quality time with their children; time full of activities or just being together. It could even be as simple as going for a walk around the block or getting ice cream. The child feeling wanted and appreciated will do miracles for a child’s self esteem and will build on the reservoir of happiness on which he or she can draw when they need to deal with stress or uneasy emotions. It also develops a level of comfort and trust between a child and a parent, which will facilitate the child in feeling more comfortable sharing what is he or she feeling, which in turn, help the parent intervene. This will help prepare children accordingly to the highly stressful situations they might experience at school or home. In addition, parents will be more in tune and notice faster when their child is experiencing symptoms of stress and depression.

            By addressing the children’s symptoms and issues early on, parents will help them to develop invaluable skills for dealing with stress and symptoms of depression in adulthood. In many cases, however, more aggressive approaches must be taken in helping treat a child with depression. These approaches include psychiatric evaluation, psychotherapy, biofeedback, and in some cases, medication. Life has many curve balls and unfortunate events thrown at us. If you obtain strong skills of dealing with the stresses in your life, you will most  likely have a much easier and happier existence.