Bud’s Black Days – Childhood Depression Signs

Ever since he was a little guy Bud has had anger management issues.

The author's children reading a book. Her younger son is angry.He hated having his picture taken.

When he was 5, Bud tried to pick a fight with some teenagers at the local burger joint because they said he was cute.  At 6, a 9 year old stole  Bud’s water gun (Super Soaker) and started spraying him with it.  Bud ran up to the other boy, grabbed the water gun out of his hands and whacked him with it until the other boy ran away.

I’m not telling you these stories because I’m looking for sympathy or so that you think Bud is a terrible child.  It’s simply that in looking back I can see all the signs we missed that Bud had a mental health issue.

WebMD has a laundry list of symptoms that can signal depression in children.  Please check out their page for the entire list. I’ve highlighted the ones that applied to Bud:

  • Irritability or anger (as previously mentioned)
  • Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased (From the age of 5 or so on, Bud had a bit of a weight problem – he wore size 12 husky pants when he was 9. About age 10 he grew a few inches in height and since then he has had a hard time keeping weight on.  So we have seen both sides of the appetite problem.)
  • Changes in sleep — sleeplessness or excessive sleep. (I talk about Bud’s sleep problems in my blog post I Couldn’t Sleep at All Last Night.
  • Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that do not respond to treatment (We homeschooled Bud through the sixth grade, so he didn’t miss school due to illness.  But by the time he was in the 9th grade, he was missing up to 15 days per semester due to headaches, stomachaches or whatever excuse he could come up with)

*this list (minus my comments)©2005-2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

I think on some level Art and I knew there was something wrong.  We thought he was just willful and when the problems first started, we cracked down on him when he raged at us (cold showers, loss of privileges).  It worked for awhile and as long as he was at home in a controlled environment, things went well.  But when he was away from home (at taekwondo or AWANA or grandma’s or camp) that was when all hell would break loose.

I wish very much we could go back and know then what we know now.  I wish we could have got Bud the help he needed from an early age so he wouldn’t have had so many years of feeling so lost and alone.  I am glad that we were able to get Bud help before it was too late and I hope that someone who reads this will be able to get their child the help he or she needs.




9 thoughts on “Bud’s Black Days – Childhood Depression Signs

  1. I think it is wonderful that you took the time to research and found out how to help and understand your son. Thanks for the information.

  2. I sympathize, and empathize. I have a son that had depression issues too. We finally discovered he is also mildly bipolar. He is on meds, married, and bought his own home last year. It’s nice to see them do so much better when they had trouble for so long. Kudos to you for having the strength to recognize it for what it was, and to do something about it.

  3. Wow, what type of treatment did you get for him? It takes so much courage, strength,patience and discipline with a child who has any kind of problems. Thanks for sharing. Hope to see you all soon. Blessings to you both.

    1. Thanks,Jackie. He has seen a few therapists and learned some behavioral management techniques. He is also seeing a psychiatrist and is on some low dose antidepressants. Mainly it has taken some maturing on his part and for Art and I to understand why the outbursts would happen and the appropriate way to respond to them so that he calms down instead of escalating. It is an ongoing process, but he is such a helpful, sweet-natured boy most of the time now.

  4. I think every parent has feelings of regret about the way they raised their children. Finally, with my fourth, I think I got it right (I think). But it took lots of practice with the older 3. I’ve had to accept the fact that I did the best I could (most of the time) in the moment with the current circumstances and information that I had with the first 3. While I am glad you are getting him help now, I hope you are not beating yourself up, like I do sometimes, over the past. As Pumba said to Timone: “You gotta put your behind in the past!”

  5. Wow, I am so thankful that you found the courage to struggle through those years as you have two wonderful young men for sons and I have two wonderful young men as nephews!!
    Love ya’
    Auntie D

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