When Rohit S (name changed), a 12-year-old started avoiding school and became increasingly irritable at home, his parents thought of taking help of a psychiatrist. While his parents were clueless about his changed behaviour, during counselling sessions, doctor found that online bullying by school friends was the reason behind him being depressed.
“He was restless, abusive and irritable. Detailed interview with him revealed that his school friends had posted some comments about him in a closed account of a school group on Facebook. He was bullied online and that led to him avoiding school and there was a visible change in his behaviour,” said Dr Milan Balakrishnan, Psychiatrist, Bombay Hospital.
“As per the studies in western countries, childhood depression is 4% of children population. The manifestation of depression is very different, as most of them come with behavioural problems like Rohit,” said Balakrishnan.
Doctors say in the last few years, number of childhood depression cases has gone up because of more awareness among parents. They also say it is important for parents to have a healthy communication with their children as a precaution measure.
“It is very important to pick up childhood depression and treat it. Depression in childhood can be situational, like it was in Rohit’s case or can be biological – like bipolar disorder – where chances of it getting continued in adulthood is also likely,” said Balakrishnan.
Doctors say while parental pressure, peer pressure and bullying are some of the common contributing factors for childhood depression, Dr Harish Shetty, Psychiatrist at Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital said all depression do not have a cause.
“There may or may not be a trigger factor. A seven-year-old boy was brought to me by his mother with complaints of not going to school for six months. He also had weird habits of excessively washing hands and counting steps taken by him,” said Dr Shetty.
“We put him on anti-depressants and he responded well. He started going to school and even stood first in class,” said Dr Shetty.
“It is important for parents to keep a healthy communication with children and spend quality time with them. In case, there are any behavioural changes in the child, help should be sought,” said Dr Avinash Desousa, Psychiatrist, LTGM (Sion) Hospital.