Most children experience gloomy, lonely, or depressed days. However, if your child appears gloomy or hopeless on a regular basis and it is harming relationships, they may be suffering from childhood depression. This is a significant mental health issue that requires medical evaluation and treatment.
The most frequent mental health issues in children are depression and anxiety. Anxiety affects roughly 7% of children aged 3 to 17, while depression affects about 3%. People of all ages, including children, can be affected by depression. Depression is distinct from mood fluctuations that occur normally as children grow and develop. The illness can have an impact on how children interact with their peers and family. It may make it difficult for children to enjoy school, sports, hobbies, or other typical childhood activities. The good news is that with psychotherapy and medication, health care providers can effectively diagnose, treat, and manage childhood depression.
Symptoms of Depression in Children
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, common indicators of depression in children are:
• Changes in appetite or weight
• Being depressed, sad, tearful, or irritable, or appearing to be depressed, sad, tearful, or irritable
• Tiredness or a feeling of being drained of energy
• Guilt or embarrassment
• Having a harder time concentrating
• Loss of pleasure or interest in previously appreciated activities
• Psychomotor agitation or slowness
• Suicide and/or death thoughts on a regular basis
• Sleep disturbances: Nearly every day, insomnia or hypersomnia.
Causes of Depression in Children
Depression and anxiety in children can have many causes, including:
• Alcohol or drug abuse.
• Environmental factors (social and family issues).
• Family history (others persons in the family having depression).
• Physical illness.
• Stressful events in life.
Risk factors of Depression in Children
Factors that increase the risk of depression in children include:
• family issues
• physical, psychological, or sexual abuse
• a family history of depression or other mental health disorders
Sometimes depression can be triggered by a single difficult event, such as a parent’s divorce or problems with peers.
Complications of Depression in Children
Children who are depressed may withdraw from their friends and relatives. Others may perceive them as unpleasant or irritate them. Unfortunately, this can lead to the end of relationships, difficulties creating and maintaining new ones, and the risk of becoming involved in unhealthy or violent relationships in the future. Keep an eye out for warning signs of suicide conduct in your child, such as:
• Concentration on death and dying.
• Giving up personal belongings.
• A greater willingness to take risks.
• Self-destructive or self-harming behavior.
• Isolation from others.
• Suicide or depression are mentioned.
Prevention of Depression in Children
Depression is more likely among children who have a family history of depression. Children with depressed parents are more likely to experience their first bout of depression in childhood than children without depressed parents. Children and teens from unstable or troubled households, as well as children and teens who abuse substances such as alcohol and drugs, are more likely to develop depression.
Diagnosis of Depression in Children
Your child will need to undergo a thorough physical and medical examination before a diagnosis can be made. Both of these tests will rule out any underlying medical issues that could be causing your symptoms. Thyroid issues, anemia, and vitamin insufficiency, for example, can all give rise to depressive symptoms. While there is no specific test for depression, your child’s doctor may perform one or more psychological exams to determine the kind and severity of depression.
Treatment of Depression in Children
Treatment options for children with depression are like those for adults. Your child’s healthcare provider may recommend:
• Psychotherapy (counseling).
• Combination of the two.
Psychotherapy for Childhood Depression
CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) is a type of psychotherapy that can help children with anxiety or depression. CBT teaches kids how to think more positively and manage their bad tendencies. It can also assist children in managing anxiety by addressing the source of their anxieties and concerns. Therapy equips youngsters with the skills they need to cope with anxiety and despair in a healthier manner.
Medications for Childhood Depression
If counseling fails to bring about considerable change, your child’s doctor may offer antidepressant medication. The best research to date demonstrates that the most effective treatment for severe depression is a mix of psychotherapy and medication. A person thinking of medication for depression and especially during childhood or adolescence, should seek an evaluation with a medical doctor (psychiatrist) that specializes in the mental health of children and teenagers.