Dear Dr. Bill,
Over the past year, our 9-year-old daughter has been going through periods of crying and sadness. We’ve always given her a little more attention because she lives with that “middle child syndrome.” But this school year, her grades really dropped and she told me she felt so bad that she could kill herself. She lay in my arms, crying and begging me to help her feel better because she feels very sad at times.
My husband thinks that she’s doing all of this for attention. I disagree, because I’m currently on medication for depression and my own father committed suicide because of his depression problems. What do you think?
Based on what you’ve told me, you should have your daughter evaluated by a child psychologist or child psychiatrist. Depression often has a genetic component. Since you suffer from it and your father suffered from it, it’s likely that your daughter has inherited a pre-disposition toward depression, and she may require professional treatment.
It’s important for your husband to understand that rather than simply trying to get attention, your daughter may actually have an imbalance in the brain chemicals that affect her mood. That’s why a thorough evaluation by a licensed professional is critical.
You didn’t mention your family’s faith background or whether you attend church. If you’re not involved in a healthy, spiritually sound church community, I would encourage you to find one. Your daughter needs to develop Christian friendships, and to learn about how much God loves her.
Part of her treatment for depression will involve changing the way she views herself. She needs to learn to see herself as God sees her…a beautiful child that he cherishes. God loves her regardless of her grades or her looks or her popularity. If she doesn’t have a children’s bible, buy her one and read the gospel of Mark together.
Thanks for writing, Nikki. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” tab on the Family Expert page.
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