Saturday, March 18, 2017

Depressed Students

This year I have noticed that more of our students are depressed and we have already done more suicide risk assessments in mid March than we did each of the past 3 years. Some of these are students who were referred for services in the past for anxiety.  About half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder Children with depression may display these symptoms:
Depressed, angry, or irritable mood
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school
Change in eating habits
Physical/somatic complaints
Mood swings
Feeling worthless or restless
Frequent sadness or crying
Withdrawing from friends and activities
Loss of energy
Low self-esteem
Thoughts of death or suicide
When symptoms last for a short period of time, it may be a passing case of “the blues.” But if they last for more than two weeks and interfere with regular daily activities and family and school life, a child may have a depressive disorder. This site is a good resource for parents

Teachers often overlook children with depression because it has internalizing symptoms not disruptive behavior with externalizing disorders, such as ADHD. Depressed children often don't ask for help at school because of negative thinking patterns: No one cares about my feelings, nothing can be done to help me, and so on (Cash, 2003). Younger students often lack the necessary language skills and self-awareness to report their depressed feelings. Even preschool age children can be depressed. Some students with depression will qualify for a 504 Plan and some may require an IEP.

School counselors can develop a positive relationship, provide emotional support, and teach students who are depressed coping skills.My go to goals for students with mood issues are: good sleep hygiene, healthy eating habits, and plenty of exercise (especially outdoors). There are not many resources for elementary counselors but these may be of some assistance

If a student has moderate to severe depression they should be referred out for cognitive behavior therapy and evaluation to see if medication is warranted.

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