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How Does Depression Affect Kids in School?

Author: Elaine Guo

Editors: Flynn Ma and Jaylen Peng

Artist: Felicia Chen

Depression is a common and severe mental disorder that negatively affects the way you feel and act,  whether it involves changing your personality or mood. Some of its symptoms include sadness, irritation, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, loss of energy, guilt, thoughts of death or suicide. However, symptoms of depression can differ widely because the severity of depression varies from person to person. To contextualize this within the younger population, approximately 2.7 million kids between the ages of 3-17 were diagnosed with depression during 2016-2019. Moreover, suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people aged 10-24, demonstrating the severe impacts depression can have on this age group. Factors contributing to depression in children and adolescents include genetics and hormonal changes, which are especially significant as teenager’s bodies are still changing.

In children, symptoms of depression may appear as sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, refusal to attend school, or being underweight. In teenagers, it may appear as sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or attendance, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, substance abuse, excessive eating or sleeping, self-harm, loss of interest in usual activities, and avoidance of social interaction. Depression is different for everyone. 

School is critical to the development of kids as they still have lots of information they need to learn. Children with depression typically experience decreased participation and may avoid certain activities or school events. It can cause difficulty concentrating or focusing on their school work. With less energy, kids can have trouble staying awake during class. Moreover, depression can slowly weaken or end social relationships with teachers and peers. Severe mood swings can cause kids to lash out at their friends, saying things they don’t mean. The behavior of kids with depression changes from day to day. One day, they can be incredibly productive, and on another, they can barely get any work done. Depression leads to disinterest in pursuing activities they used to enjoy. It can also affect memory, as it can be challenging to gather and recall new information after a period of time.  

As a parent, you can help your child get through depression. Tell your child’s teacher as soon as possible so that your teacher can be more aware of your child’s specific needs. You should monitor their grades on a regular basis and possibly ask for modification if needed. Arrange a meeting with the teacher and brainstorm ideas to help your child do the best they can and catch up if they are falling behind or their grades don’t show their best effort. If your child has multiple teachers, try finding one whom your child can confide in. Children need someone with whom they can feel comfortable talking or venting. 

 

Citations:

“Anxiety and Depression in Children: Get the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Mar. 2023, 

“Depression (Major Depressive Disorder).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical

Education and Research, 14 Oct. 

“Impact of Anxiety and Depression on Student Academic Progress.” IBCCES, 17 Apr. 2020, 

progress/#:~:text=Depression%20and%20 anxiety%20affect%20all%20areas%20of%20

an,poor%20academic%20performance%20and%20resistance%20to%20anything%20

school-related.                                                

Linnell-Olsen, Lisa. “How to Help Your Child with Depression Succeed in School.”

Verywell Family, Verywell Family, 4 Sept. 2021, www.verywellfamily.com/how-to-

“What Is Depression?” Psychiatry.Org - What Is Depression?,    

Feb. 2024.

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