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The Emotional Side of Bleeding Disorders


Just as adults feel depression and stress, children and teenagers do too. Children with a bleeding disorder may feel sadness about their bleeding disorder if they aren't participating in activities in the same way their peers do.

Of course, depression and stress may not be related to the bleeding disorder at all. Children with bleeding disorders undergo the same stress that other children do, such as experiencing their parents' divorce, moving, or bullying.

Parents and caregivers who notice a change in a child's behavior, such as crying or withdrawal, should open a dialogue with the child and seek professional help, if needed. Children and teens who are experiencing depression or stress should be reassured that they are not alone. There are people who can help and steps they can take to feel better.

This section of Next Step provides important information on:

Find Your Silver Lining

Managing a bleeding disorder impacts you and the lives of those you love. It may seem overwhelming at times but managing a bleeding disorder can also bring opportunities for building confidence and strengthening relationships.

In this video, you'll hear the personal experiences of those who have not only met the challenges of managing a bleeding disorder but have reaped the benefits of a positive outlook.

The Emotional Side of Bleeding Disorders

Adolescence can be a stressful time. Children with bleeding disorders have the additional stress of managing a chronic illness and dealing with the pain, fatigue, and the feeling of being different that often comes with having this condition. They also may be fearful, which can cause stress. They may fear getting injured or the pain that it causes.

Children with bleeding disorders may need help in managing these and the other stressors in their lives. You can help your son or daughter handle new or frustrating situations and teach him or her ways of managing stress that will be valuable throughout your child's life.

For more information about stress and coping strategies, go to Managing Stress.
Remember: Coping with a chronic illness is usually a family affair.

Children Can Get Depressed Too

Depression is the most common mental health problem in the United States. Depression isn't just bad moods and feeling down or sad. These feelings are normal especially in kids during the teen years. Depression includes persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, which can be strong enough to interfere with everyday life. These feelings can occur in children, as well as adults. A variety of issues can contribute to depression in young people with bleeding disorders specifically.

Detecting Depression

Children and teenagers with depression display different signs than adults who are depressed. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has prepared a list of signs of depression in youngsters.


Here are some signs of depression to look for:

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness, or crying
  • Decreased interest in activities
  • Hopelessness
  • Persistent boredom or low energy
  • Social isolation
  • Low self-esteem and guilt
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Frequent complaints of physical illnesses, such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
  • Poor concentration
  • Changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Talk of or running away from home
  • Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-destructive behavior
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol

Here are some situations that may be associated with the risk of depression in kids with bleeding disorders:

  • Activity limitations: Sitting on the sidelines while classmates play sports or engage in other off-limit activities can contribute to depression in children with bleeding disorders.
  • Seeming different: Kids whose chronic illness affects their appearance or attracts unwanted attention may also be more likely to experience emotional struggles. Young persons with hemophilia may be self-conscious about bruises, needle marks, or swollen joints. Needing crutches or a wheelchair can add to the feeling of being different.
  • Overprotective parents: Sometimes a caregiver's concern about his or her child's well-being can also attract unwanted attention from a child's peers. Children who are not allowed to participate in activities or whose parents are overly protective may be teased by peers.

However, some of the challenges kids with a bleeding disorder face are shared by children without a chronic condition. Don't attribute everything to your child's bleeding disorder. Kids with bleeding disorders can become depressed for the same reasons as other kids, like bullying or parents' divorcing.

Here are some ways to prevent and treat depression:

  • Engage your child in interesting activities: While some sports aren't appropriate for children with bleeding disorders, plenty of activities may interest your child. Being engaged in appealing hobbies, safe sports, and other activities lets kids focus their attention on something other than their disorder. It allows them to interact with other kids who have similar interests and pursuits.
For activity suggestions, go to Playing It Safe.
  • Encourage your child to socialize with peers who have bleeding disorders: Socializing with other people with bleeding disorders can be a beneficial experience. Kids can connect in person through camp, chapter events, and online.
  • Get professional help for your child: If your child is showing any signs of depression or is having difficulty dealing with his or her bleeding disorder, seek help from the staff at the Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC). Your HTC can be a good place to start to find mental health professionals in your area who treat depression in children and teens.