Broody, introspective, self-conscious and self-absorbed: Does this ever sound like your child with depression? While many adolescents and teens may seem a little self-absorbed at times, research supports a relationship between depression and an increased self-focus.
Depressed people in general tend to think about themselves, examine their personalities, mull over their feelings, and question their motives more than non-depressed people do.
While it may seem counter-intuitive that a person struggling with depression would be self-absorbed, the reality is that depressed people may have a heightened sense of self-consciousness.
Self-consciousness, or a negative sense of self-awareness, may increase negative emotional states, like sadness, hopelessness, or anger, and cause a person to focus on the negative, like a poor grade or a disagreement.
A depressive state can be hard for a child to escape from. Negative thoughts, self-consciousness, and negative emotions tend to be cyclic, leading to more negative thoughts and feelings -- which is why children always need help to recover from a depressive episode.
When It's Depression
It is important to know that not all children who are self-absorbed or self-conscious are depressed. In fact, most children have periods when they are definitely self-absorbed and self-conscious -- this is normal. However, it is important to seek help for your child if you believe she is depressed.
Other symptoms of depression in children may include:
- Academic decline
- Extreme shyness
- Vague and unexplained physical symptoms
- Extreme sadness
- Social withdrawal
- Sleep and appetite pattern changes
- Feelings of guilt
If you think that your child is depressed, talk to her pediatrician or other mental health provider about an evaluation. An accurate diagnosis and treatment is essential in the recovery of depression in children.
Jonathon D. Brown. The Self. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1998
Ingram, R.E. Self-Focused Attention in Clinical Disorders: Review and a Conceptual Model. Psychological Bulletin. 1990; 107(2): 156-176.