Major Depressive Disorder in Children and Adolescents
Children and adolescents living in distressful and hurtful environments for a long period of time develop depression and other emotional disorders.
When a child is exposed to a certain amount of pain every day she starts developing self-protecting mechanisms and to a certain extent we do not know exactly what is the mental and the emotional process that occurs inside of the child. It is for the therapist a struggle to reach the emotional center of a child who experiences in a daily basis death, pain, sight of blood, confusion, sounds that she cannot understand and screams that she can’t perceive.
How to address these children? How to make them understand that human kind is losing control of what is good or bad, correct or incorrect. It is a fight to prepare the child for the loss of a parent or parents or even siblings.
It is important to understand the child’s emotional needs, plan in advance the strategy to be used and provide support to the child. These are small steps that may help the child during PTSD. These steps may set the tone for the moment when the child has to face the wounded parent. It is impossible to predict the child’s reaction when the moment of truth comes.
Communication is one of the most important skills when addressing the child or the teenager. According to their ages the therapist must prepare his speech considering that seeing a person seriously injured is emotionally distressing for children and teenagers.
Parents and therapists must be prepared for the fact that when a child or an infant suffer a serious injury or watches someone being injured are deeply frightened by the event and the loss of the ones they love. They are traumatized and carry inside them delicate enduring symptoms that are usually missed and this cannot happen. It is crucial that even in a situation of chaos children should be a priority at all levels.
According to research if a child is given the opportunity to be listened, guided and supported it is possible to heal and repair the psyche. It is the therapists’ role and parental support that may provide to the child to access their own natural ability to recover.
Parents can identify the level of distress of the child through the following symptoms: watch for withdrawal, fearfulness, irritability, excessive shyness, emotional outbursts, aggression towards other children, nightmares, bedwetting, difficulty in falling asleep, regressive behaviors for their age, tummy and headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. In a deeper level the child may develop phobias.
Children should be protected from the cruelty of the human beings but unfortunately, some children, in a very early age, have to deal with the insanity of the adults. It is not their fault if they were born in France or in Palestine but all of them have the same human rights to grow up with health, education and love. This is the foundation of any human being and these rights have been stolen from the children in Palestine.
Is the world blind? What kind of human beings are we who live so distracted that can’t feel the pain of a nation? Is it because it is summer time and the beach is more interesting than a bomb exploding in someone’s home? Probably because it isn’t your home that is being destructed and it isn’t your child who is being mutilated.
The perspective changes when you consider the possibility that this can eventually happen to you, to your family and friends or are you so over confident that none of this will ever happen to us? Is Middle East in another planet? Or is it just in the next corner? When your hearts feel the proximity of the horror and the pain maybe your hearts will melt and will allow your brain to think and do something to support the ones in need.