When we think about someone who is suffering from depression, we tend to think of teenagers and adults. However, as many as 1 in every 33 children, 12 years old and younger, suffer from depression as well. The causes, symptoms, and treatment are very similar to those of a teenager or adult, though childhood depression often goes untreated due to a lack of understanding and realization that severe depression can also affect young children.
There are many causes for depression in children. Some may be more obvious than others, such as stressful life situations like the death or illness of someone close to your child, or recent changes in your family living situation, such as a separation or divorce. Other causes may be a little harder to pin-point. A family history of depression, or a biochemical imbalance or disturbance, can also cause depression in children. Typically depression does not have just a single cause, but a combination of several factors.
As your child grows, he will likely go through mood and attitude changes. Typically, they will only last a short period of time, and he will be able to work it out without any major intervention. However, if his symptoms seem to be lasting a while, continually getting worse or more noticeable, and are effecting his day-to-day life, there may be reason for concern.
Some of the most common symptoms of depression are:
- Changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or sleeping all the time.
- A significant increase or decrease in his appetite.
- Loss of interest in his family, friends, and things/activities he use to enjoy.
- Lack of energy or inability to do even simple tasks.
- Low self-esteem or feeling like he is worthless.
- Constant talk or fascination with suicide and/or death.
- Extreme and consistent anger, sadness, anxiety and/or irritability.
If you are concerned that your child may be suffering from depression, talk to her pediatrician as soon as possible. Her pediatrician may recommend that she see a psychologist for a mental health evaluation, and therapy sessions may also be suggested. Therapy can be a great way to encourage her to open up and talk about what and how she is feeling, while giving, both her and you, the tools to successfully navigate the illness.
As a parent of a child suffering from depression, it is extremely important to be supportive, open to ideas, and have a willingness to listen and talk about her issues. Being proactive in her treatment is necessary in order for it to be successful.
Our psychologists at Carolina Pediatric Therapy want you and your child to know, you are not alone, and we are here to help. We are willing to answer any questions or concerns you may have, so please give us a call today.
Sources: Parents.com | About.com | onHealth.com | KidsHealth.org | WebMD.com
~ Shandy Marso, Contributor
Carolina Pediatric Therapy © August 2014