Is Your Child Depressed or Just Moody? -Depression Symptoms in Children
Depression in children is different from everyday emotions that occur as a child develops. Just because a child seems sad doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has significant depression.Having depression is more than just being sad. If the sadness becomes persistent, or if you notice a disruptive behavior that interferes with your child’s normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, it may indicate that he or she has depression. Also, if your child seems persistently sad or hopeless and this is affecting relationships, he or she may suffer from childhood depression, a serious mental health condition that needs medical assessment and treatment. Keep in mind that while depression in children is a serious illness, it is also a treatable. Childhood depression treatment is available.
As adults, we all feel sad and down sometimes – maybe when things don’t go our way, we get hurt, or when we have lost someone close to us –children are not different.
Per research, one out of every five young people is dealing with mental health problems. The good news is that health care professionals can accurately diagnose, treat, and manage mental health problems — including childhood depression and anxiety.
What is this Depression in Children?
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity. Sometimes it may be a normal reaction to occurring life events or circumstances, a symptom of a medical condition, a side effect of drugs or medical treatments, or even a symptom of certain psychiatric syndromes, such as the mood disorders.
Symptoms of Depression in Children
Sometimes as a parent you would ask yourself this question “Is my child depressed or just moody? Childhood depression is different from the everyday “moods” that most kids get as they develop. The fact that a child feels sad, lonely, or irritable does not mean he or she has childhood depression.Childhood depression is persistent sadness. When this occurs, the child feels alone, hopeless, helpless, and worthless. When this type of sadness is persistent, it disrupts every part of the child’s life. It interferes with the child’s daily activities, schoolwork, and peer relationships. Remember, it can also affect the life of each family member.Symptoms of depression in children may vary. It depends on the child and his or her mood disorder. Most of the time, childhood depression goes un-diagnosed and untreated. That’s because it’s usually taken as normal emotional and psychological change that occurs during growth.
Some of the signs and symptoms of depression in children include:
- Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased.
- Impaired/changes thinking or concentration and Difficulty concentrating. They have difficulty listening and concentrating on tasks.
- Changes in sleep habits — sleeplessness or excessive sleep.
- Continuous feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
- Irritability or anger.
- Physical complaints (such as headaches) that don’t respond to treatment.
- Reduced ability to function during activities at home or with friends, in school or during extracurricular activities withdraw from social situations, not want to spend time with friends. They may lose interest easily in an activity they usually enjoy.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
- Have low energy and be difficult to motivate.
- They make negative comments about themselves.
- They may be very difficult to please.
- They mostly seem sad and cry easily.
What Causes Depression in Children?
Per research, depression in children is caused by a combination of three things:
This is basically what is happening in a person’s life, and what is going on in their body. For a child to get depressed, there must either be something wrong with their lives, body and or mind, or a strong family history of depression.
Children with chronic medical problems are much more likely to get depression. Severe asthma, severe head injury, diabetes, epilepsy, and other childhood diseases can result in depression.
Some children, not all though, react to problems in their environment with depression signs and symptoms. Common causes of this are abuse of all kinds, neglect, poverty, no consistent parent, school, or home, and horrific things like witnessing deaths, finding bodies, losing parents, etc.
Recent studies have shown that children who are watching a lot of TV are more likely to have a host of different psychiatric symptoms. Studies have also shown kids who are watching over 6 hours a day have more problems with depression, anxiety, and aggression.
What you Can Do to Help Children with Depression
As a parent:
- If you’ve noticed that a child you care about doesn’t seem themselves or is behaving differently, the first thing you need to do is to talk about what’s going on and how they’re feeling.
- Let your child know that it’s OK to ask for help and that you’re ready to listen to whatever they want to say. If they’re distressed about a situation, you can help them to solve the problem or ﬁnd ways yourself to improve the situation.
- You could also try doing something fun, getting outside and doing some exercise, or doing something special together.
Family members and friends can also seek mental-health assessment and treatment for the depressed child. Once the child with depression is receiving treatment, family members are advised to promote good mental health by gently encouraging him or her to;
- Live a healthy lifestyle, including encouraging the child to maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, exercise regularly.
- Remain socially active.
- Engage in healthy stress-management activities.
Parents and other loved ones can also be helpful to the depressed child by discouraging him or her from engaging in risky behaviours.
Childhood depression is a risk factor for developing several other mental-health symptoms and disorders. Prevention of childhood depression involves reduction of risk factors and strengthen protective factors using approaches that are appropriate for the child’s developmental level.
Stay tuned for more articles on Depression.