11 Signs Your Child Has Childhood Depression
Children, like adults, go through times when things are going well and they are happy and in a good mood, but at other times we can see them in a bad mood, which can be filled with a range of emotions such as sadness. , anxiety, irritability, anger, hopelessness, worthlessness, and other signs and symptoms that fall under what is called childhood depression.
Childhood depression may not be a temporary condition, but a real illness that can get stronger and worse over the years if it is not diagnosed and treated in the best possible way.
Warning signs of childhood depression
Depressed children and teens don’t always know how to describe how they’re feeling, or they may try to avoid talking about it because they don’t want to upset others. If we take into account the opinion of Dr. Kimberly Burkhardt, psychologist, associate professor of pediatrics and behavioral medicine at Case Western Reserve University, USA, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine’s 11 warning signs that should lead to suspicion that a child may be suffering from depression are:
- A change in sleep habits, such as taking short or long naps or taking long, regular naps.
- Not wanting to participate in activities or not enjoying those activities, even though they used to be fun.
- Feeling isolated and lonely from friends and family.
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating.
- Weight loss or gain, or change in appetite.
- Worsening of academic and school results.
- Fatigue and loss of energy.
- Self-harm, which can take many forms, such as cutting, piercing, scratching, or even hitting oneself.
- Low self-confidence, lack of self-esteem and worthlessness.
- Feelings of hopelessness and despair and negative thoughts about self, others and even the future.
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide.
Causes of childhood depression.
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes depression. Childhood depression is a complex condition with many causes that can contribute to its onset, including:
- Stressful life events such as divorce, marital conflict, domestic violence, and the death of a parent.
- Moving to a new school.
- physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
- Having a family history of depression or other mental health problems.
- Having a physical illness.
- Brain chemistry imbalance.
Types of depression.
There are two main types of depression.
1. Severe depression
If the child’s health care provider records five symptoms that have occurred recently and last at least two weeks on most days, then the depression is said to be of the acute type. Depression can be mild, moderate, or severe, and in the latter case, sufferers find it difficult to manage everyday life.
2. Chronic depression
Chronic depression is diagnosed when symptoms persist for more than a year. The clinical picture of chronic depression is less severe, and affected children can manage their daily activities, but they are often frustrated, and it is possible that they have severe depressive episodes from time to time.
Diagnosis of depression in a child.
If there is a suspicion that a child has depression, parents should talk to the child to find out what is bothering him and what he is feeling, and whatever the problem is, it should be taken seriously. The problem may not be a big deal for the parents, but it can be a big deal for the child.
Sometimes it can be difficult for parents to distinguish between normal behavior and pathological behavior in a child, and in this case they should bring it to a pediatrician or mental health doctor for the necessary evaluation, but above all, the caregiver should start; excluding diseases that produce similar symptoms to those seen in depression, such as:
There are no tests to diagnose depression. A mental health assessment should include interviews with the child’s parents, classmates, teachers, and friends to get a picture of the child’s mood and behavior fluctuations.
Treatment of child depression.
Depression can be just a passing cloud that quickly passes on its own. But if the symptoms of depression continue for more than two weeks, it means that the child is suffering from anxiety and that he is at the stage of seeking help. If a child is diagnosed with depression, treatment options include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy looks at the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Through this therapy, mental health professionals help the child challenge unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors and thus work to change them.
- Exercise therapy and behavioral activation, where mental health professionals work with the child to gradually engage them in positive activities.
- Drug Treatment If the child continues to suffer from moderate to severe depression, the doctor may recommend antidepressant medication, especially if the patient exhibits suicidal thoughts or self-harming behavior. Great care should be taken when giving antidepressants to children, as some may not show any improvement or may feel more depressed. The child should be monitored closely while taking these medicines and not stopped suddenly, as this could have serious consequences or make the depression worse.
How can I help my child if he seems depressed?
If you think your child may be depressed, you should see a healthcare provider to evaluate symptoms, rule out an underlying medical condition, and recommend appropriate treatment. There are things parents can do at home to help their child cope with feelings of depression.
- Monitoring the child’s mood and monitoring the warning signs we covered above.
- Instill confidence in the child and explain to him that he should not be ashamed of his illness and that it can be treated like any other illness, so that everything will go back to normal after that.
- Encourage your child to talk, talk and communicate honestly and openly, as this gives them comfort and confidence to share their thoughts and let go of their feelings to deal with them properly.
- Encourage the child to engage in daily activities that he enjoys and to interact with others.
- Never underestimate your child’s feelings, sit with him, study his performance, listen to him and engage with his thoughts and feelings without judging him.
- Teach your child to ask for help A child needs to know that there are people who can help him, whether it’s from you, his teachers, or other counselors.
- Watch your own behavior, a child learns coping skills by observing your behavior, so be a good role model for him.
Can depression be prevented?
There’s no surefire way to prevent depression, and parents can’t always manage the stresses a child faces in their daily lives, but they can help improve their mental health by getting:
- A safe and supportive environment at home and at school.
- appropriate daily activities.
- get enough sleep.
- Healthy and balanced food.
Depression is a mood disorder that can make a child feel sad, irritable, or hopeless. Depression can affect sleep, appetite, and relationships with others. This can lead to a loss of interest in hobbies or activities that were once enjoyable. In severe cases, it can lead to suicidal thoughts. Although depression is a serious medical condition, it is usually treatable. It is important that the child receives help as soon as possible so that the disease does not turn into a chronic problem. Parents may not know what to say to their child, so it is recommended to consult with a qualified health professional to better understand the child’s feelings in order to develop their coping skills and put them on a path to a normal life.
11 signs that your child may be depressed. University hospitals
Depression in children and young people – NHS
Depression in Children and Adolescents – HealthyChildren.org
How do you know if your child is showing symptoms of depression?