Most people think that depression affects only adults and not children or teens. That is the reason why most of these cases go unnoticed and untreated. As per the American Academy of Child and Adoscelent Psychiatry, around 3% of the children in the US alone are affected by childhood depression. Their continuous depression interferes with their regular daily life and school schedules. If not treated, would result in their suicides as well. I am not scaring you here, but these are the real facts coming in newspapers regularly. Now this problem has also spread to India as well, as one can see the increase in the suicide rates among children and teenage kids. So, that’s why this blog discusses the causes and symptoms of depression in children in detail.
What are the signs Childhood Depression?
Emotional fluctuations are common in any human being. So children also can feel blue or down at times, but if a child is consistently in that low mood or blue mood for more than two weeks, then it’s an alarming situation. Generally, instead of showing their pain, kids express their irritability or anger to hide their emotional distress. So, as parents, we need to dig a little deeper to understand the reasons for their continuous irritability. Apart from this continuous irritability and sadness in kids, the following are the additional symptoms that we need to be watchful
# Noticeable changes in apetite and weight
# Inability to concentrate or complete the school work
# Consistent fatigue and tiredness
# Not able to mingle with their own family members
# Always in the blue or low mood (sad, irritable, teary, ready to cry)
# Started using negative talk more frequently
# Changes in sleep pattern
# New/unheard physical problems like stomachache, headaches, etc
# Loss of interest in usual fun activities
In few teenage kids, we can even observe the substance usage also and can identify as one of the symptoms of depression.
Now the next question that comes to mind is the root cause for this depression? In most of the cases, its either one or the other mentioned below:
- Family circumstances: In most cases, the depression would be driven by the surrounding situations like friends and family. Any unwanted disturbance. stress/trauma in these surroundings might result in depression
- Imbalance in the Brain: Imbalances in our neurotransmitters or hormones, might lead to depression as well. These imbalances may be genetic or as a result of malnutrition.
- Family History: If the depression is there to one or other members in the close family, then there might be chances of the child getting that gene.
- Peer Pressure or High expectations from near and dear: When the child is not able to meet the high expectations of near and dear or the peer pressure at school, there are chances that he might get into a depressive state.
The above-mentioned cases are just the root causes but the person going through that depression is not a weak-hearted person, he is trying to fight a lot against all the above-mentioned situations and he needs a little support from the friends and family to fight this depression
Can the depression in children be prevented?
Yes, the children with a family history of depression or the children with highly chaotic households are the ones who are at greater risk of getting into childhood depression. And it can be prevented if the experts intervene in the early stages of child development itself.
How to handle the Childhood Depression?
If the child shows either one or multiple symptoms mentioned above, then we need to consult our pediatrician immediately to get the initial evaluation done. Then, the doctor would refer us to either the clinical psychologist or a life coach based on the severity of the case.
The treatment options for depression in children are almost the same as those in adults. They include a lot of counseling and medication. If intervened at the right time, the childhood depression can be easily curable and the child could lead a happy life afterward.
The following are the some of the tips that we as parents can follow proactively to avoid our children getting into the depression.
Create a rich social life for the children, apart from the close family members. So that they can have trusted people with whom they can share their problems
Create consistent eating and sleeping patterns. A healthy body and mind are less prone to depression and other irregularities.
Make the child more emotionally intelligent and talk to him about how to handle various emotions at various points in time
Let him be a problem solver and let him fail multiple times before he can succeed. Please do not become his cushion to safeguard the kid from failures. Let the child know the pinch of failures.
Always keep the communication channels between you and your child open. Let him have the freedom to come and accept his mistakes to you. This way, you can make him understand that there is no pressure from the parent’s side on him.
As a parent, we sometimes don’t want to accept the fact that our child is depressed or having a mental health issue. It’s very important for the child to get treated at the right time by the right person so that his future life would be happier. So that’s another reason for us to build a healthy relationship with our child so that he can come and talk to us about everything and anything that bothers him. If that healthy relationship is there, then we might be able to help our children at the earliest.