Depression

Experts don't agree whether gifted children become depressed more frequently than children in general.  Some say that gifted children are more prone to depression and suicide because of their heightened sensitivities, perfectionism, introversion, overachieving behaviors, existential concerns, and feeling like they don’t fit in.  Others contend that no research proves gifted children are more depressed than others their own age. 

About 10% of gifted adolescents experience clinically significant levels of depression.* Suicide attempts occur more frequently among youths who are artistic and creative, unusually sensitive, and who attend highly competitive and selective schools.**

Signals, Symptoms & Strategies

What to Look For

How Parents and Teachers Can Help

Strong reactions to criticism, which can induce feelings of helplessness

Avoid criticizing behaviors that are a part of the child’s personality:being too sensitive, too intense, too inquisitive

Children who are overly critical of themselves

Help children practice resiliency skills—persistence, tolerance for error or frustration, positive self-talk

Frustration and anger with achievements

Provide opportunities to master tasks that become progressively more difficult to promote success and optimism and minimize feelings of helplessness.

Identify ways to appropriately channel or manage anger and feelings

Negative self-talk and low self-esteem

Help gifted children set reasonable standards for themselves

Sadness, unhappiness or grief that lasts longer than two weeks, which includes widespread loss of interest, withdrawal, less energy, lack of appetite, lack of sleep, difficulty concentrating

Seek professional or medical assistance

 

*Baker (2004) in Chapter 7  Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children, Webb et al.

**Kerr(1991); Piirto (2004); Silverman (1993).