School is back in session, traffic has increased, and the weather, for the most part, in Maryland has changed to cooler temperatures. It is safe to say Fall is upon us!  Along with changes we can visibly see such as the leaves changing colors and eventually falling off the trees, the daylight gradually decreasing, etc., many times there are other changes around us with regards to our emotions that are not as visible.  The question is, do you recognize the emotional changes that take place in your child? Well, October is National Depression Awareness Month and it is a good idea to become aware of the symptoms of depression and anxiety so you are prepared to help your child get the help they need in order to support their emotional health whenever necessary.

The National Institute of Mental Health states that depression, a mood disorder, “Causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.“  An individual may not experience each of these symptoms but the amount and duration of the symptoms they experience within a 2 week period of time help the clinician or physician when it comes to diagnosis of depression.  Some symptoms of depression are as follows:

Feeling sad, anxious, empty or worthless

Drastic changes in grades or schoolwork

Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping

Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that you usually enjoy

Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

Appetite or weight changes, aches, pains, without a concise physical cause

Suicidal thoughts or attempts suicide

In addition to being aware about depression, parents should be aware about anxiety as well. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association, “Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder”.  Some children have difficulty leaving their parents and find themselves constantly concerned or worried with what could happen to them when they are away from each other. Moreover, other students may find it hard to concentrating in school during testing and experience test anxiety, while others may have difficulty making friends or have limited social skills or are unsure about social engagement both of which may cause social anxiety.

Although the following is not the list of anxiety symptoms in its entirety, these are some of the more common symptoms:

Dry mouth

Panic, fear, and uneasiness

Cold, sweaty, numb or tingling hands or feet

Problems sleeping or nausea

Dizziness or shortness of breath

Intense worry or fear, unable to remain calm

What can be done if you think your child is dealing with anxiety or depression?  Seek professional help. Tri-County Youth Services Bureau, Inc. offers counseling for youth.  Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit the suicidepreventionlifeline.org for more information and resources.  You can also have your child complete a depression screening questionnaire or quiz such as the one below provided on the Counseling Resource website and discuss the results with the clinician or physician. Whatever you do, you nor your child has to experience emotional changes regarding depression or anxiety alone. Being educated and informed about the symptoms of each can be beneficial for you and your child!

For more information contact Tri-County Youth Services Bureau, Inc., at 301-645-1837, or at info@tcysb.org.

Visit the following websites online:

https://adaa.org/october-depression-awareness-month

https://counsellingresource.com/quizzes/depression-testing/goldberg-depression/

https://www.nami.org/depression/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/anxiety-disorders#1

Lisa Gilliam, M.A.

School-Based Counselor