Depression in Children – A Double Tragedy

Seeing a child chronically depressed is genuinely heartbreaking, and yet it is a sight that is sadly and worryingly increasing in our society. The figures speak for themselves –   rates of probable mental disorders in 6–16-year-olds have risen from one in nine to one in six[1], and depression is one of the most common types of such disorders. Furthermore, one in five children and young people suffer from mental health illness in any given year.[2]

Childhood is meant to be carefree and full of happiness, but for many children in the UK (and the West in general), their formative years are characterised by chronic depression. Depression is not just a state of mind; it is a malady that can wreak havoc on one’s mental and physical health and lead them to actions they would never contemplate otherwise.

A child who is depressed may show a variety of signs. They may feel sad or have a low mood for a long time or may lose interest in things that used to bring them joy. They may be irritable or grumpy or be chronically tired. They may express feelings of hopelessness or loneliness and may be withdrawn from friends and family. In rare cases, they may even have thoughts of self-harm.

Some children find that they become depressed without any obvious reason, but the cause(s) usually comes down to things like bullying, family issues, neglect, grief, physical/emotional/sexual abuse, or a family history of depression or other mental health problems. Depression can be mild to moderate, but it can also be severe, which is where a serious danger of self-harm exists.

So why is depression in children a double tragedy? In addition to ruining happy childhoods, affecting schoolwork (and thus future career prospects), and negatively impacting overall health, depression can have lifelong detrimental effects. It has been found that half of all mental health issues in adults start by age 14[3], which means that unaddressed issues in children such as chronic depression can very possibly lead to a lifetime of depression problems, with all the consequences that that entails, both for the individuals concerned and their families. In addition, depression can lead to early-onset substance use, which is associated with higher risks of developing dependence and other problems during adult life, and people of younger ages are disproportionately affected by substance use compared with people of older ages.

Therefore, the importance of helping address depression and mental health issues in children cannot be overestimated. There are various types of intervention that can be used to address depression. Psychological counselling or psychological therapy can make a big difference, but very often they are not enough and a radical change in environment is needed (change of school, change of home environment/circle of friends, geographical location, etc). Even simple things such as keeping a journal and spending time in nature can help. Antidepressant medication should be the last resort, but in certain cases of clinical depression it has been found to help.    

Clinical Hypnotherapy can also help to resolve the deeper underlying causes of depression by addressing the whole person rather than just treating the symptoms. It helps to identify any ‘unfinished business’ that is stored in the body by releasing the triggering event before it becomes too deeply rooted and has the potential to continue as self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviours. With hypnotherapy we can release any stored experiences, memories, and emotions, replacing them with positivity through the power of hypnotic suggestion to improve a person’s functioning.

Please do get in touch to see how I could help you, a friend, or a family member. Alternatively, if you require some urgent support, the following are some useful support contacts:




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