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Depression in Children May Manifest as Anger

child therapy for anger issues Fayettevile NC, Child Behavioral Issues, depression therapy for children, behavioral issues in children, Child Counseling with Carolina Counseling Services North Fayetteville Office, Fayetteville NC

Depression in Children May Manifest as Anger


When children have depression, there are usually apparent signs that parents or guardians must watch out for. As young as they are, they will not be able to understand their feelings completely, which can result in confusion being imminent. Signs can be manifested in different ways, such as anger or irritability. If depression is not diagnosed, it can lead to more serious consequences.

To untrained eyes, the manifestations may be chalked up to “bad” or moody behavior; a trait commonly found in many children of all ages. Parents or guardians may completely miss the signs and symptoms of depression, which could be the reason behind the child’s behavior. When this happens, the essential steps needed for treatment or therapy can be delayed.


Typical Signs of Depression in Children

 It is the responsibility of parents and guardians to safeguard the health of their children. Adults can miss the signs of depression because they vary from one child to the next. The probability of noticing the signs and symptoms goes up when one focuses only on the typical symptoms of depression in children. A change in patterns of sleeping, eating, social interaction, positivity, as well as tireless feelings of sorrow are just some of the characteristic or benchmark signs of depression in children.

Professionals explain that these typical signs may not be found in all depressed children. In certain cases, they may seem to respond well and function as usual while presenting only slight changes in behavior. An example would be sudden outbursts that may even go unrepeated for a long period of time.  In other cases, anger and irritability may appear as simply undesirable or rebellious behavior. Lethargy or indifference may seem like the child just does not care. Most of the time, adults and children do not comprehend that these are already possible signs of depression.

Anger is a commanding feeling and must not go unnoticed. Regular outbursts, rude come backs, irritability and defiance are all manifestations of anger and must always be addressed. Whether the changes are subtle or major, if it goes on for a few weeks, it is best to consult a behavioral health professional. This is important for the signs and symptoms to be assessed. Keep in mind that there is likely no good outcome when one sweeps these observations under the rug.


Moving Past Child Anger

“Jumping the gun” and immediately assuming your child is depressed because he/she is angry is also not healthy. Despite having a short temper, which can be a trait found in many children today, it is important to observe and pay attention to their signs and symptoms. It is helpful to note how often the behavior manifests and the intensity of the behavior.

Children do not have enough experience to understand what or why they are feeling what they are feeling.  This is why they can become confused and may experience a deeper form of sorrow or anger. According to Elements Behavioral Health, “Depression has been aptly described as a whole-body illness because it involves not only changes in mood, but in almost every other area of a child’s life, as well.”

With the limited experience they have, children can only present the emotion or behavior they are familiar with; like anger and irritability. Depression affects the child’s daily life which can be seen in the decreased ability to concentrate and slowed progress in school. They may feel socially awkward and indifferent especially when they cannot relate to anyone.


Ignoring the Outbursts of Anger

Parents, by default, think the world of their children. Accepting that their child is not perfect and may be struggling with an illness may come later for some. This leads to a delay in diagnosis and treatment. It is an all too common occurrence for parents to think that their child’s current behavior is just a phase they will grow out of. The reason why this happens is not related to loving a child less, but rather loving them too much. Living in a cloud by covering up the signs of depression helps no one. Acceptance by parents is critical for the child to receive the proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

Irritable behavior, particularly in children, is a non-specific sign manifested in various emotional and behavioral conditions. In about 76% of these type of disorders, anger or irritability is found to be a DSM or diagnostic criterion. This is one of the factors causing overdiagnosis of bipolar disorder in children and teens. Harvard University’s division of influential child psychiatry has continuously insisted that extreme anger or irritability is the main sign of depression among preschool and school aged children, including teens.

Seeing a child in pain because of depressive symptoms is heart-wrenching, particularly for the parents. It may not seem like it in the early stages but delaying the option of professional assistance does more harm as the child continues to feel deep sorrow and confusion. Is your child in need of professional intervention? Denying a child treatment can result in the worsening of their symptoms. Complications related to depression can surface when the child does not have a chance to recover as early as possible.


Containing the Wrath

Although helpful, signs of depression will not simply go away because a parent provides increased compassion and attention to their child. There is only so much a parent without this kind of training can do. Depression is a condition that requires professional assistance. Steps like assessment, diagnosis and personalized treatment must be undertaken. A parent’s unconditional love for their child goes a long way, however, the process of uncovering the source of anger and coming up with strategies to calm their moods can be overwhelming.

Taking charge of a depressed child’s care is easier said than done. Faced with anger and personal conflicts, the day-to-day care will take its toll on any parent. A parent can reach a point where patience is lost, this may cause parental authority to come into play. Defense mechanisms like this will only take the process back to square one. A parent can be equipped to confront outbursts and meltdowns through positive ways by meeting with counselors or therapists specializing in child depression.

Children can only recover fully if the signs are assessed properly and a precise diagnosis is given. Finding the source of the child’s depression is a skill that requires professional training and expertise. A parent wanting to do things on their own may be commendable, but the outcome may not necessarily be helpful. Different strategies produce different outcomes. What a parent reads online may or may not work for their child. A parent may think that their strategy is working. In reality, it might be causing more harm.


The Positive Way to Address Anger

Anger is a natural emotion and it is healthy for a child to let out their negative feelings. When anger begins to destroy a child’s relationships and cause a delay in their development, however, actions must be taken. More frequent, intense and longer outbursts of anger are not within the spectrum of healthy anger. Do not wait any longer, see that the signs are assessed by an expert. Find the help you need from the counseling authority in the neighborhood – Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC.  

Parents do not have to face this challenge alone, there are highly trained professionals ready to help your child. Depression is a treatable condition, especially if diagnosed and treated early. The decision to let an experienced counselor/therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC help you, may be the best one you’ll make for your child. Call today!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Fayetteville, NC (North)

Counties: Cumberland, Bladen and Sampson Counties, NC

Areas: Fayetteville NC, Ft Bragg NC, Pope Field NC, Sliver City NC, Linden NC, Bunnlevel NC, Erwin NC, Dundarrach NC, Rex NC,and Wade, NC

Zip Codes: 28311, 28395, 28390, 28356

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422 McArthur Road, Suite 2
FayettevilleNC 28311

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  • Becky Clark, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Anxiety, Depression, Individuals, Couples, Geriatrics, Criminal Justice, Stress Management, Loss and Grief related to death, disability, divorce, deployment, “empty nest”, retirement and other major life transitions
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