Depression affects people in different ways. However, the signs of this mental health disorder are usually easy to see in adults. On the other hand, determining if a child is suffering from emotional distress can be a bit more difficult. Unfortunately, many people believe children are not "old enough" to experience depression, but this serious condition can affect people of all ages.
As a matter of fact, an estimated 5 percent of children and teens suffer from depression at one point in time. Understanding that the disorder is a real problem for many children could mean saving your own child from severe emotional distress. With this guide and a doctor's help, you will learn the signs and treatment options for depression to ensure your child receives the care they so desperately need.
Signs of Depression in Children
It is normal for your child to exhibit signs of sadness, anger, or general moodiness from time to time, especially if they are close to the adolescent age. However, if your child is showing one or more of the following signs, they may be dealing with a more involved case of depression:
- Constant irritability
- Anger and aggression
- Increased sensitivity
- Withdrawal from friends/family
- Loss of interest in favorite things/hobbies
- Decreased or increased appetite
- Extreme fatigue
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Lack of concentration
- Difficulty at school/grades slipping
- Physical discomfort-complaints of stomach pain, headaches, or muscle/bone discomfort
In most cases, you will be able to notice the above signs, but depression can cause your child to experience problems you will not be able to notice. Your child may have feelings of worthlessness and have actual thoughts of suicide. Because of the severity of these unnoticeable issues, seeking professional help for the visible signs is imperative.
If you are a child who is having thoughts of suicide or death or you believe your child is suicidal, contact the National Suicidal Prevention Lifeline anytime at 1-800-273-8255.
Diagnosing Depression in Children
If you believe your child is suffering from depression, do not panic. Asking your child how they are feeling is acceptable, but it is best to consult a mental health professional for a complete evaluation.
This evaluation will involve interviews with your child, you and other parents, and the rest of the immediate family. The therapist may also recommend talking with your child's teacher or daycare provider, since they spend a good amount of time with your child.
Unfortunately, there are no physical tests that will give an exact determination on childhood depression. A full evaluation and interviews are the best option for diagnosing depression and other mental health disorders, in children.
Treating Depression in Children
It is important to note that your child will most likely not be able to "grow out of" their depression. Treatment will be crucial. Of course, the type of treatment will depend on a few factors including your child's age, severity of depression, and if they are exhibiting other signs of mental health disorders.
Most doctors will recommend psychotherapy to treat a child's mild to moderate depression. Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy involves counseling your child to determine why they are feeling the way they do. The therapy will involve your child independently and group therapy sessions with your immediate family.
Pharmacotherapy may also be an option for your child. Pharmacotherapy involves prescription medications, such as anti-depressants, to manage your child's depression, easing their symptoms. For the most effective treatment of your child's depression, medications should be used in addition to psychotherapy.
You may believe your child is too young to feel depressed, but that is not actually true. The disorder can affect people of all ages, backgrounds, and genders. This guide and the help of a company that offers therapist services will ensure your child's depression is understood, diagnosed, and treated.