Depression in Children
Depression in Children
In this article, you will learn about depression in Children. Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Depression doesn’t just affect adults. Children and teenagers can get depressed too.Some studies show that almost one in four young people will experience depression before they are 19 years old.
It’s important to get help early if you think your child may be depressed. The longer it goes on, the more likely it is to disrupt your child’s life and turn into a long-term problem.
Depression is not a passing mood, nor is it a condition that will go away without proper treatment. Depression is often not diagnosed and treated because the symptoms are passed off as normal emotional and psychological changes that occur during growth. Keep in mind that while depression is a serious illness, it also is a treatable one. Parents should speak with their child’s pediatrician or contact a mental health professional if they have any concerns about changes in a child’s mood or behaviour.
Estimates show that at least 3.3% of children 13 to 18 years old have had episodes of severe depression. Estimates show this number to be 5%. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in young people between the ages of 10 and 24.
• Change in sleep pattern: trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
• Physical agitation or retardation (for example, restlessness or feeling slowed down)
• Fatigue or low energy/loss of energy
• Feeling sad or blue and/or irritable or seeming that way as observed by others (for examples, tearfulness or otherwise looking persistently sad, or angry)
• Difficulty concentrating
• Feeling worthless, excessively guilty, or tend to self-blame
• Thoughts of death or suicide
• Significant appetite changes, with or without significant weight loss, failing to gain weight appropriately or gaining excessive weight
Causes of Depression
Depression has no single cause. Both genetics and the environment play a role, and some children may be more likely to become depressed. Depression in children can be triggered by a medical illness, a stressful situation, or the loss of an important person. Children with behaviour problems or anxiety also are more likely to get depressed. Sometimes, it can be hard to identify any triggering event.
How can you help your Child to come out of Depression?
If you’ve noticed that a child you care about doesn’t seem themselves, the first step is to talk about what’s going on and how they’re feeling. If they reply with a ‘dunno’, suggest some feeling words and see if any hit the mark with them. The primary solution is always just confronting your child and learning more about why he is in the situation he is in. Here’s how you deal with your child’s depression, if he does really have it.
Educating your child about depression is a crucial first step. This helps your child understand the possible causes (genetics, environmental factors, bullying, stress), understand brain chemistry (low serotonin), and reduces self-blame. It also normalizes what your child is going through.
Counselling is a good option for kids struggling with depression. There are different kinds of counselling and what works for one might not work for another. For very young children, play therapy is an option. For older kids and teens, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be effective. It can take time to find the best patient/therapist match. Make several calls and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You know your child best.
Medication might be necessary for moderate to severe cases, but medication works best when combined with counselling. Medication management is important. Close supervision of the prescribing physician is recommended.
For severe cases of depression, including suicidal ideation, hospitalization is sometimes necessary.
Irritability, feeling overwhelmed, and outbursts are common in depressed children. As hard as this can be for the parent on the receiving end of these behaviours, it is important that parents remain calm and focus on active listening. It’s the natural tendency for the parent to want to “fix” it or somehow put a stop to it, but mental illness is complicated. It can’t be fixed or stopped. It can, however, improve. With proper treatment and supports in place, your child can thrive and enjoy childhood once again.
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