Childhood Bullying and Depression

5959I was bullied through much of my childhood, beginning when I was seven years old, which was when we moved from New Jersey to a wealthy town in Connecticut in which sports were worshipped. I was, to put it mildly, not very good at sports. Not only was I somewhat uncoordinated, but my Attention Deficit Disorder (or complete lack of interest) caused me to space out when the phys-ed teacher was explaining the rules of whatever game we were about to play. When we were subsequently playing, of course, I wouldn’t have any idea what was going on and would screw things up for my team. Or I’d be daydreaming in left field and miss a ball coming right at me. Continue reading

Roadblocks to Effective Psychotherapy Treatment

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big fan of psychotherapy. Although medication has had a greater role in my successful depression treatment, psychotherapy helped me to recognize my inner demons and banish or deal with them, thereby leading to my becoming a much happier person overall, which I would assume is helpful in fighting depression.

Treatment with psychotherapy is a tad more complicated than treatment with medication, however. With antidepressant therapy, once you’ve found the right medication (admittedly, sometimes a lengthy process) you basically take your medicine and deal with side effects. Psychotherapy demands more in terms of the right conditions and a commitment from the individual. It’s fairly common for roadblocks to come up that hinder the process. I’ve experienced two of these roadblocks in the course of my therapy, so I thought I’d pass on what I’ve learned about getting past them. Continue reading

Recognizing Depression in Children

Image: Boys in the Pasture by Winslow Homer

Boys in the Pasture by Winslow Homer

Most of my childhood was blighted by clinical depression. After I was diagnosed at age 27, my parents told me that they knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what. Not surprising, since I grew up in the 1960s and 70s, and depression in children wasn’t even considered a possibility until the 1980s. But even today, years after the medical community acknowledged that children could be clinically depressed, it is not easy to recognize.

There are a couple of reasons why this is the case. Although more and more people are becoming aware that clinical depression is not a mood but a disease, there are still plenty of people who don’t realize that. So while they might be able to find reasons why an adult might be depressed (trouble with the person’s job or marriage, financial difficulties, etc.) there are generally few reasons that a child might be displaying a sad demeanor, barring major loss of some kind or a dysfunctional home life. Continue reading

10 Ways to Help When Your Child is Depressed

Image: Calm Morning by Frank Weston Benson

Calm Morning by Frank Weston Benson

Being a parent is rewarding, but tough. One of the hardest things to deal with is your child’s pain. If your child is depressed, you probably are scared and feel helpless. There are some ways in which you can help your child, though.

1. Recognize that clinical depression is a disease.

Internalizing this fact will help your child in two ways. One, it will hopefully keep you from blaming yourself or your child. This is no one’s fault. Second, if you think of depression as a disease instead of a choice your child is making, you won’t say anything thoughtless like, “Why don’t you just pull yourself together,” or “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

2. Don’t freak out.

This will definitely not help your child. Clinical depression can be successfully treated more than 80% of the time. As long as your child has a good doctor and supportive parents, he or she has a very good chance of recovering. Notice that last part – while everyone with depression really needs a good doctor, supportive parents are absolutely critical for a child with depression. Continue reading

What are the Risk Factors for Childhood Depression?

I had untreated clinical depression starting from a young age. When I was finally diagnosed at age 27, I started trying to figure out why this had happened to me.

Why would a child suffer from depression? What are the factors that can combine to create depression in a young child? In many cases, one of the usual suspects is a family history of mental illness. But there was no such history on either side of my family. So I started looking for other explanations. Continue reading