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Depressed 4 year old - ADVICE PLEASE?

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by Athene, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. Athene

    Athene ihateticks.me

    My son, who is 4 and has had CFS from birth, is doing well physically. He is energetic, growing, his guts are in good shape and his food allergies seem to be diminishing.


    He appears to be suffering from really bad depression.
    This morning he kept bursting into tears (it's a regular occurence) and said "Mummy, why do I keep crying like this all the time?"
    He refuses to leave the house, even for offers of ice cream or the toy shop.
    He just wants to play on the computer or watch TV all day and I don't have the energy to drag him out especially when he is so against it.

    My husband uses extreme insistence and takes him to the beach or to see his grandmother whenever he is home from work (he finishes early so they can get to the beach for the afternoon) and he always enjoys this, but then he refuses to leave the house again the next day and sometimes all he does is cry or whimper about nothing for a whole afternoon.

    He frequently asks "Mummy, do you love me?" or "No I don't want to play, I just want a cuddle," yet this is not caused by physical tiredness (he's got far more energy than me these days). I give him so much affection and I'm such a naturally demonstrative person anyway that I don't understand where this comes from. Italian kids are all used to being smothered with kisses and declarations of love so they usually get fed up with it.

    Just as a reminder, he is 4 years old. I have tried looking for a therapist here in Sicily but they're still in the stone age so I'll have to deal with this myself.

    If anyone had knowledge of dealing with depression in children, please can you help me?
  2. Stone

    Stone Senior Member

    I wonder if there is anything natural you could try giving him? I wouldn't dare to suggest anything specific, and I'm not an herbalist, but it seems there must be something mild and natural that he's not allergic to that's worth at least a try in a very small quantity at first to see if helps. I don't know who one would consult for something like this. We have used herbal teas and things for our grandbaby when he's fussy or what not, but I wouldn't know what to suggest for depression in children.
  3. Karin


    I am sorry. It is so difficult to see our little ones suffer. I have a five year old with autism (very high functioning now after over three years of intensive biomedical treatments), and a four year old who is neurotypical (but has the food allergies and gut issues too).

    Here are two things you could try for depression that are safe for a four year old (of course check with the pediatrician): fish oil, and 5-HTP or tryptophan. I guess at four he cannot swallow big gelcaps. For my kids, I give them a liquid fish oil, Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omegas. It is extremely concentrated EPA and DHA so you can give just a small teaspoon and there is already a lot of fatty acids. Worth the price. Another product that is great for kids who don't want to take the fish oil is Coromegas. This is fish oil in a flavored 'paste' that all kids I know love.


    Also, maybe have his vitamin D and iron checked, just to make sure he is not deficient. Also, I guess a multivitamin would be a good idea.
  4. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

    Are you certain he is depressed and not suffering from a physical and/or mental/emotional issue? Four sounds a tad young for depression but not for other mental issues. I would get him to a doctor and run all the tests for diseases that you and a good doctor can think of.

    This may be a phase that a four year old goes through. He may have some sort of seperation anxiety going on (not uncommon, I had it too) or some other age-related phase thing. Or he had an incident or situation that scared him and he has forgotten the incident but it has left some sort of mark on him, hence not wanting to leave the house and his mother (the protector).
    But you are correct to take this seriously now before it gets worse. I admit that the crying all the time and the little guy knowing that this is not normal and concerns him too does sound like a depression. But you have to cover the waterfront with such a young child and that means hitting the doctors and getting him tested for everything. He may have deficiencies in some vitamins/minerals, etc.
    I just don't know but see if you can't get him talking about anything/everything and see what sneaks out from that. The little ones will talk and without knowing it, tell you what is/has gone wrong. You just have to listen really carefully and tease out the important stuff.

    My niece would cry and tell part of what was going on but not the real important part of why she was crying. It took a great deal of talking to get it all out of her. We think she was keeping it quiet and also did not really realize what was bothering her. Turned out she was being bullied at school in grade 2 by a bunch of kids and went from loving school to hating school and wanting to go to anther school. No reason given, just crying and begging not to go to school. Finally, my sister and her nanny (the second "mother" as nanny doesn't do justice) got it out of her and then she was moved to a new school and away from this group of bullies (that the school tried and could do nothing about). So keep asking him gently about how he feels, what bothers him, what he likes, and tease out the important stuff.
    Keep us updated on the poor little guy.
  5. birddog


    have you considered having him tested for parasities?
  6. It sounds like there might be some anxiety mixed in there too. Good suggestions on supplements.

    You could also try learning EFT (emotional freedom technique) and applying that on him. It's so simple he could probably learn it himself. I've seen advice for kids about having a teddy bear with buttons in the tapping spots. It's called Tappy Bear.
  7. dsdmom

    dsdmom Senior Member

    Oh Athene, I'm so sorry. I have a 4 year old (well almost 4) and I can't imagine having her tell me those things. Breaks my heart.

    Anyway, fish oil is definitely a good recommendation and should be safe. My dr started me on these ones because they are a lower dose - they can be chewed and taste good as they are designed for kids.
  8. Athene

    Athene ihateticks.me

    Thank you all for these really good suggestions.

    I will get his iron levels checked as he has been anaemic several times in the past, and also put him back on fish oil. I stopped his fish oil a couple of months ago, which was only becuse I was shoving so many tablets down him I thought he could take a break as his diet expanded a bit. But I'll put him back on them.

    I've talked to him a lot to try to tease out what he could be upset about. After lots of help from the great women at his nursery (which he went to happily until May, when I had a major crash) I am certain it all boils down to my illness. He worries about me all the time and doesn't want me out of his sight for that reason. Last week he begged me to pick him up and, against my better judgement, I did so and immediately collapsed on the floor. He was a bit upset about getting hurt but didn't make a fuss. When my husband asked if I was OK and I replied that I had really hurt my back, my son burst into tears. So anyway, there is definitely anxiety there but it's based on something I cannot resolve or change at all. My husband and I have already agreed that we never talk about my illness when our son is awake but he is amazingly perceptive and I cannot pretend to have a higher level of functionality than I actually have - at least, not for more than extremely brief periods.

    BTW regarding EFT, do you know a good website that explains it? I have never heard of it before.
  9. Hope123

    Hope123 Senior Member

    Rather than a therapist, you might want to take him to a good pediatrician first. I realize that good pediatricians are hard to find, especially in regard to ME/CFS but at least you can rule out all sorts of other issues; some pediatricians are also superb at behavorial issues.

    It is certainly possible your son is acting the way he is due to anxiety about your illness. I used to volunteer with kids or their siblings who had cancer and have seen kids react to their moms/ dads having a serious illness. Although how and what info is presented to kids varies on age and individual maturity level, kids often sense what is going on more than their parents think and sometimes not telling them anything can make it worse as they overestimate the seriousness of the illness. He might also have felt bad that he "caused" your back pain. This is not geared towards ME/CFS but might be useful for you:

  10. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

    Athene: You said: "I've talked to him a lot to try to tease out what he could be upset about. After lots of help from the great women at his nursery (which he went to happily until May, when I had a major crash) I am certain it all boils down to my illness. He worries about me all the time and doesn't want me out of his sight for that reason. Last week he begged me to pick him up and, against my better judgement, I did so and immediately collapsed on the floor. He was a bit upset about getting hurt but didn't make a fuss. When my husband asked if I was OK and I replied that I had really hurt my back, my son burst into tears. So anyway, there is definitely anxiety there but it's based on something I cannot resolve or change at all. My husband and I have already agreed that we never talk about my illness when our son is awake but he is amazingly perceptive and I cannot pretend to have a higher level of functionality than I actually have - at least, not for more than extremely brief periods."

    I think that this may be a big part of the problem with him. He is a sensitive little guy and is aware you are sick. Children do have mortal fears of losing their parents and panic when the parent is sick. It really can be an all encompassing thing for him to know his mommy is sick. If we all think back to our own childhoods, were we all not aware and frightened when our parents were the least bit sick or hurt or not feeling well? I was. I watched my mother like a hawk and got crazy when she was sick or if there was even a hint that something might be wrong with her. My niece is also too aware of her parents and their health. It's so bad with her that we lie about her parent's age's so that she doesn't do the math and figure out that she has older parents and that they may die sooner. In fact, there is NO talking about death in front of her since she gets so upset, cries and we have to re-explain to her that no one is dying, no one will die (lie) and no one is sick - so knock it off! She has been aware of her parent's health and death since she was very little. It's amazing how much they understand at so very young an age.
    You might play down the boo-boos that you have to him and yes, don't discuss the illness around him when it is a serious subject. But remember too, that they know when things are being hidden from them and that makes them even more scared. So, yes, you have some pain, it's not a big deal and he should not worry about it. Play it down, don't discuss the heavy subjects in front of him, but don't hide that you have some pain but it goes away when you take your medicine, etc.

    I would still take him to a doctor and have him tested just to make sure that everything is fine. Again, play down HIS going to the doctor and tell him that everyone goes to the doctor for check-ups to stay healthy.
  11. Wasbeer


    Amersfoort, Netherlands
    If I were you I would reconsider this, and maybe talk this over with a psychotherapist who specialises in children. Children know. They feel it, see it and if you keep the subject 'under the surface' that can be really frightening for a child. Children depend on your wellbeing with their lives, so they are always checking out if mom's allright, and if you try to hide it from him he will check you out even more. Ofcourse you would have to find a suitable way to discuss it in a way his four year old brain can handle it. Explain to him that mom is sick, tell hem him what it means and what the consequences for him are, what the possible scenario's are, be realistic about it, but also reassure him that it's not his fault, nor his responsibility to look after you. If you show him that you're taking both him and your illness seriuosly, and if what you tell him becomes consistent with what he feels and sees is actually going on, he will probably feel less need to monitor you. You are not protecting a child (even a 4 year old) by keeping something like that quiet or hidden, you're probably doing the opposite, allthough you mean well.

    Ofcourse I don't know everything about your situation, and I don't know if my words fully apply to you, but I know what it's like to grow up with a sick mom who tried 'not to burden me' with her illness, so I can truly say I speak from experience. If you want to read up on the subject I would suggest something from Alice Miller, a very wise woman who helped me a lot.

    Good luck!
  12. anne_likes_red

    anne_likes_red Senior Member

    Check magnesium too maybe?

    Athene - would you say there's a fear/anxiety component to your son's depression?
    Just throwing something out there that I've noticed improved my little boy's anxiety which mainly manefested when he was out of the house and if any attention was on him - magnesium. I upped his intake by modifying his diet slightly, more bananas and cashews the easy part, and I got him drinking bone broth (aaah a mission that was lol.) He has very little dairy and it appears to me the extra magnesium seems to have met an important need in him. With the support of an amazing preschool environment and teacher he's rapidly grown very sociable and confident, stopped waking from "scary animal" dreams, and a couple of physical things he stopped biting his fingernails and muscle twitches he used to get from time to time have disappeared. He was always pretty healthy, he has never needed to see a doctor, he just had this unexplained anxiety...particularly out of the house.
    I know how difficult it can be dealing with CFS and worrying for a child....I hope with all the ideas share here you'll find something that makes a difference.
  13. Victoria

    Victoria Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Some great suggestions here, Athene,

    Are you able to pinpoint (or remember) exactly when the crying episodes started? Did they start when your last crash started?

    Does he cry in a particular part of the house? Has he had an accident or injury or jammed his finger in a particular room? While he is not aware of it on a conscious level, maybe there's a memory association with a particular incident in his subconscious?

    Is he confused about your illness? Does he cry only in front of you? Does he cry in front of his Father?

    See if you can narrow down a set of circumstances that are always present when he starts to cry.

    Does he think you "hurt" when you have a crash? IF he only cries in front of you, that narrows it down a bit.

    You may think this is far-fetched, but does he feel YOUR pain & distress at being ill? (you know what I mean......like one twin feeling the other twin's pain).

    Try playing him some happy music. Try playing him some calming, meditative music. Perhaps try putting a drop of Lavender essential oil on each of his wrists every morning, to see if the calming effect flows through to his subconscious. Will he drink some chamomile tea (cooled) for it's calming action.

    Or whatever makes him laugh. What makes him laugh? Laughter has an ongoing effect. Once you laugh out loud, you tend to feel happy for quite some time after.

    Is he lonely? You can be in a room full of people & still feel lonely.

    Does he have a special little friend who he might be missing? (real or imaginery)

    Does he get plenty of sunshine? He might have a vitamin D deficiency or, if he gets plenty of sunshine, he might not be absorbing enough vitamin D. Lack of vitamin D would certainly make anyone depressed or down.

    PS And despite his clinging to the TV & computer, I believe you've got to distract him away from these (particularly the computer). Long viewing of these screens has been proven to alter brain action.

    I believe children need something they can "interact" with. Do you have the energy to read to him? Can you buy him a bubble pipe & the two of you practice blowing the biggest bubble (outside of course, you need to get him outside). Can you get him to interact in some sort of game that gets him using a different part of his brain.

    Have you got lego or building blocks & toy cars. Despite your own illness & fatigue, can you find something not too tiring to do together.

    I used to spend hours with the little boys I looked after, building little towns (lying on the floor) We'd build towns & railway lines & invent stories.

    Give him some crayons or pencils & try to get him drawing. See what he draws. Does he draw people or happy scenes. Does he draw sad scenes or ugly things. Often a child's subject matter (of their drawing) reflects some subconscious inner turmoil.

    Have his eyes checked also. There may be some irritant or allergy which starts tears.
  14. Wayne

    Wayne Senior Member

    Ashland, Oregon
    EMFs -- Child's Developing Neurological System

    Hi Victoria,

    The TV and computer were the first things I focused in on as well. Athene, for what's it's worth, the leader of a spiritual group I belong to (Harold Klemp/Eckankar) has mentioned in the past how vulnerable children's developing neurological systems are to today's environments filled with so many EMFs. It might be worth it to monitor his behavior with just how much time he's in front of the TV and computer.

    I started a thread recently entitled, "Earthing" for Protection from EMFs. There's a good article I posted on this thread, plus there's some good replies that you may find of interest. Best to you and your family in trying to find a good solution for yourselves.

  15. Victoria

    Victoria Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Forgot to mention the "B" word.....

    Athene, please don't be offended when i say this, but is your son bored ? Sometimes children sit in front of tv & computers because they're bored & want the tv or computer to entertain them.

    (This is another reason for your son to get outside & get some fresh air & exercise - a difficult thing to do when his Father is at work & his Mother is too unwell to go for a walk).

    Children (& adults for that matter) need to use both sides of their brains. Also, we all, including children, get into habits sometimes. If you & your Husband can manage to find a way to break the habit (or cycle) of crying & introduce new things into the daily routine, that might help.

    I've been racking my brains while I was walking along the beach this afternoon, trying to remember what worked for a 3 yr old I used to look after when I was a live-in Nanny. She would cry & throw tantrums for hours on end. Alot of her problem was because of the dramas between her parents (who eventually separated & divorced). She was highly intelligent (genius actually) & it took me a while to figure out how to distract her & wean her off her habits of screaming & crying. Outings, music, puzzles & mental stimulation, creative crafts & during the kindergarten holidays, we went to things like puppet shows etc. I have cared for a dozen children of all ages, but mainly toddlers ie 2-4 age group. But really, what I remember most, is that she liked to make things & visit the art gallery (of all things, fancy taking a 4 year old to the art gallery & talking about painters & painting techniques - but that's what she wanted to do).

    Toddlers need both guidance & limit setting, but also need to learn how to play by themselves (as well as play with other children & learn social skills).

    But most important of all, children need to be children & do the activities other children that age would normally do.

    Perhaps your child is wanting to be a "carer" & look after his Mummy (who is sick).

    I really feel for you. It must be so difficult to resolve your Son's crying problem(when you are unwell yourself) - small children take so much energy.

    Of course, like all small children, he might just be going through a phase & it will all sort itself out without any outside intervention.
  16. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

    Sth Australia
    Is the crying sadness? or is it crying cause of bottled fears and worries eg anxiety related? Children worry when a parent is ill, they are more aware often then other people are.

    If anxiety based crying... You could see if he would like chamomile or Jasmine herbal tea. both are calming.

    If you could find a child psychologist, that could help.

    My child was about 6 or 7yrs when I was very sick and bedridden... she took the whole thing quite hard.
  17. Athene

    Athene ihateticks.me

    I have spoken with a child psychologist here, and she was idiotic. Even worse than I expected.
    My mother sent me a book that was more helpful adn confirmed, as you have all said, that he is really more anxious than depressed. I am certain he is anxious about leaving me because he thinks I need looking after and cannot cope alone. He is also.therefore, bored stiff being cooped up at home so much. And the computer and television fixation is partly a symptom of the fact that he has to entertain himself to a large extent, and efinitely something I see asa symptom of this whole problem. I have manged to wean him off the computer now (was always concerned about it) and my husband is going all out to reassure im that Mummy needs rest so it is better for us to leave her alone and let her sleep rather than keep pestering her.
    I don't think this will go away overnight but I can see where potential for improvement is. I am trying all the great suggestion you have all made, as I think experimenting is a good thing. I am gradualyl finding out how to make him sfeel safer and thus become more willing to branch out of his fixed routines and go and do new things.
  18. willow

    willow Senior Member

    East Midlands
    I recall that as a child that when my parents tried to protect me from difficult truths I could sense the concealment and my imagination was always worse than the truth. Perhaps especially when I was younger and language less developed, senses are more key to understanding the world?

    There was one time when I was a bit older, 9 or so, and my Mum was in hospital for a planned operation which unknown to us kids had gone wrong, it was touch and go and seemed she might to bleed to death. The adults around were jolly and trying to create adventures for us. It was suspicious behaviour and obviously a charade. Thing is even if someone had told me the truth I wouldn't have taken it any worse becuase the world felt so discordinate, total implosion seemed inevitable.

    Good Luck, sounds like you've a few things to try.
  19. Athene

    Athene ihateticks.me

    I do get the message about not trying to hide things like illness from children. We haven't really been trying to keep it secret, but just trying to avoid talking about blood tests, medical appointments and symptoms on a daily basis. It had become our almost constant topic of conversation. My son seemed to get a kind of aversion situation, especially when he was incessantly being taken into hospital himself. He still refuses to admit to EVER feeling ill, having pain or anything else.... as he knows it leads to being prodded by a doctor or getting admitted to hospital. He insists he is fine when blood comes out of his bottom and he even swore he was in no pain at all when he was stung all over the chest by a jelly fish. So I just figured that, if he is this brave simply because he cannot stand medical stuff, the least I can do is stop blahing on about it when he'd rather talk about dinosaurs.
    But when significant events take place, I'll make sure I sit him down and talk it through properly with him. When I had my heart op a couple of years ago I invented a game to prepare him, and by the time it actually happened he thought it was all a bit of a bore....which I regarded as a big success.
    It's the ten-day headaches and incessant exhaustion that I find harder. It's not really scary stuff fromhis point of view, just very annoying, I would think.
  20. markmc20001

    markmc20001 Guest

    Athene, congrats on the book! sorry to hear your son feeling down right now.

    I can say I often suffer from depression and don't want to leave the house. here is some of the stuff that helps me:

    1) yoga. and excercise. especailly the yoga type meditation. May be hard for a 4 year old, but maybe there is some variation of yoga you can help him explore. Excercise, walking out in the sunshine can make me feel better.

    2) dry Saunas. I can go in feeling down and anxious and come out feeling like a different person. A gym membership may be out of the question, but they make inexpensive sauans for the home. Maybe you can even use it too for your health. Suanas work for me.

    3) detox. when I get metals or toxins coming out I can feel bad and depressed. Maybe he is having some detox symptom or food allergy? tough one, but something to think about. saunas can help with detox. (I feel my wellness is related to my ability to detox)

    4) EMF's: these are very real for me. They can make me very depressed, out very tired and miserable. Too much is not good. The TV and computer will do it, especially the wireless networks. (wi-fi) I read somewhere recently that LYME is often irritated by EMF's or something like that. (studying klinghardt's KPU stuff)

    5) excitotoxicity can make me depressed. caffine often makes my excitotoxicty worse.

    hang in there!

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