Two years after the death of her daughter Julia, actress Shamaine Buencamino recently opened up about what she says is one of the most difficult times of her life.
In a talk show, Shamaine shared that “alam mo iyung eksena kapag may namamatay sa family sa pelikula sa TV, hindi ba iyak ka kaagad? Hindi ganoon. Ang naramdaman ko parang tumahimik ang mundo. Tapos wala akong narinig. Immediately kasi kinakausap ko siya, parang nandoon pa siya. Kinakausap ko siya. Sabi ko ‘Go with God, I love you.’”
Shamaine further said that both she and husband Nonie never thought nor considered that their daughter would take her own life. And they are not the only parents to think so.
As parents, we would like to think that if we raised our kids to be happy and provided them with everything they need, then they’ll be okay – a sentiment Shamaine herself believed. But the truth is, even kids who look okay and happy might be dealing with depression and other mental health issues.
Psychiatry.org defines depression as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function and work at home.
Contrary to what some people may believe, depression is not just sadness. As Shamaine said, “we are not talking about sadness. Sadness comes and goes, it’s normal to be sad. Kapag depression, may time frame ‘yan. Two weeks na malungkot ka na hindi nawawala and bigat o lungkot mo, punta ka na ng doctor.”
Aside from the prolonged feeling of sadness, as Shamaine said, how can parents know that their child might be dealing with depression and need help? Here are a few signs of depression in kids and teens:
1. Your child feels sad, empty, hopeless, and irritable for the most part of a day, every day.
Depression does not always manifest as sadness, irritability is a very common depression symptom in kids and teens. So even if he denies that he’s sad, he might still be dealing with depression if he has a shorter temper and lashes out often. For young children who might still not have the ability to voice out their emotions, you can watch out for a lot more crying bouts and crankiness, acting less happy than usual, and increase in tantrums.
2. Your child no longer enjoys the activities that he used to.
If your child previously enjoyed sports or music and just stopped practicing or attending related activities, then perhaps there’s no harm in checking and talking to him about his reasons. Unspecific reasons such as “I just don’t feel like it” or “it’s not fun to do anymore” may be a symptom of depression.
3. Your child has experienced loss or increase in appetite, or lost or gained a significant amount of weight.
Although weight loss or gain in kids and teens may be due to a variety of reasons such as the amount of activity they are currently engaged in, whether they like the food they have access to, or if they’re trying to go on a diet. Loss or gain in weight becomes a symptom of depression when it cannot be attributed to any of these factors, but rather to his mood.
4. Your child has trouble sleeping or sleeps too much.
This may be quite hard to monitor due to factors such as the fact that kids and teens do really need a lot of sleep, and it is natural for teens to have difficulties falling asleep before 11 pm. However, if your child seems to be sleeping more or takes more naps than before, or cannot stay awake during the day – then it could be a symptom of depression.
5. Your child is fidgety or seems to be lethargic.
Your child can be considered fidgety or restless if you have noticed that he cannot sit still, and cannot stop himself from doing something with his hands – such as wringing it or picking his clothes or skin. On the other hand, your child can be considered lethargic if his movements are “slower” than usual – he speaks quietly and rarely than normal, and his body movements seem to be slowed down.
6. Your child seems exhausted and has little to no energy.
This can be quite difficult as well as each individual has varying amounts of energy, so the best thing to do is compare it with previous behavior. So if your child seems more worn-out and fatigued compared to how he is normally before, then it may be a sign of depression.
7. Your child seems to feel worthless or guilty most of the time.
This can be a red flag if your child constantly makes comments that “I feel like a bad person,” or “I don’t deserve ____.”
8. Your child cannot concentrate nor think.
If your child previously had no problems with concentrating but is now having difficulties with it, or if he suddenly developed an attention-related disorder – then this may be a sign of depression.
9. Your child talks about thinking of death or dying.
Death or dying can be a difficult topic for parents to discuss with their child, and while it is normal for a child to wonder about it, thinking about death a lot and expressing a desire to die may be a symptom of depression. This includes statements such as “things would be better without me,” or “I wish I could disappear forever.” Don’t be afraid to talk to your child, but it’s okay to ask them about it especially if you’re worried. Suicidal thoughts should not be taken lightly, and it is better to consult a mental health professional for help.
10. Your child is having problems in their friendships/relationships and school performance because of some of the aforementioned symptoms.
If your child has five or more of these symptoms, then he may be experiencing depression and it is best to consult a mental health professional for proper guidance and help. For family counseling and assistance, you can check out the groups we have cited in our previous post about postpartum depression.