Depression in Children and Adolescents: How to Recognize It?

Depression in Children and Adolescents

The symptoms of depression in children are very similar to those of adults. They include, among others permanently depressed mood, lack of energy or low self-esteem. Moreover, youthful depression is characterized by irritability, aggressive behavior, escape into the world of games and the Internet.

Depression can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or material status. Most people associate it with sadness, depression, irritability, anxiety, loss of energy, and loss of interest. Worse mood happens to everyone, but when it persists for more than two weeks and hinders everyday functioning, it may indicate a developing serious disease – depression.

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The causes of depression in children

In recent years, depression has increasingly affected children and adolescents. It is estimated that about 2% of children and 20% of teenagers suffer from it. There are many theories trying to explain the etiology of its origin, but so far no specific cause has been identified.

In most cases, depression is a combination of many different factors:

  • Genetic (it has been found that depression is more common in children whose relatives also suffered from it)
  • Biological (hormonal disorders, malfunction of neurotransmitters in the brain);
  • Psychological (low self-esteem, poor social skills, lack of resistance to stress)
  • Environmental (family conflicts, parents’ divorce, lack of time for a child, excessive expectations as to their achievements, stressful events in life, death of a loved one, experience of physical, mental or sexual violence, abuse of alcohol or psychoactive substances by parents, difficult financial situation, problems at school)

Symptoms of depression in children

Symptoms of depression in adolescents and children in most cases are similar to those observed in adults (the difference is that in young people irritability, irritability and aggressive behavior dominate). So what changes in a child’s behavior should pay special attention to his parents?

  • Permanently depressed mood, sadness, depression, apathy
  • Lack of energy
  • Excessive and persistent fatigue
  • Irritability, mood swings, impulsiveness
  • Feeling of anxiety and internal tension
  • Abelief that life is meaningless
  • A pessimistic view of the future
  • Low self-esteem
  • Excessive guilt
  • Self-criticism or excessive perfectionism
  • Reluctance to perform daily duties
  • Resignation from current interests and passions
  • Lack of care for appearance
  • Isolation from the environment, withdrawing from interpersonal contacts
  • Escape into an alternative world of games or the Internet
  • Somatic complaints (e.g. abdominal pain or headache)
  • Weakening of concentration of attention, memory and intellectual abilities
  • Frequent absences from school, poorer academic performance
  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling asleep or excessive sleepiness)
  • Eating disorders (overeating or lack of appetite)
  • Self-destructive behavior (self-harm, alcohol or psychoactive substance abuse)
  • Interest in the subject of death, suicidal thoughts

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Treatment of depression in adolescents and children

The prognosis for depression depends on many factors. It happens that childhood disease recurs in adulthood. Treatment of depressive disorders in children and adolescents requires, first of all, the involvement of parents. The basic method of treatment is a combination of psychotherapy (individual, group or family), pharmacology (drugs from the group of serotonin reuptake inhibitors are most often used) and psychoeducation.

How to help a child with depression?

The presence and involvement of parents is an important therapeutic factor in the treatment of adolescent depression and accelerates the child’s recovery. What can you do to help your child with depression?

  • Be present in your child’s life. Take care of positive relationships between you. Show care and attention.
  • Support your child in difficult times. Show that he can always count on you.
  • Appreciate and praise the child. Enjoy his successes with him.
  • Don’t underestimate or belittle your baby’s problems. Don’t deny his feelings. Listen carefully. Refrain from judging, criticizing, instructing, and giving advice.
  • Say you’re worried. Ask how you can help. Offer your support, but don’t push. Be persistent and empathetic.
  • If something bothers you – act. Talk to people who know your child well. Consult a specialist.
  • Do not take offense at your child if he or she is emotionally hurting you or offending you. Find out what is really behind his words.
  • Show your child unconditional acceptance. Say it is important to you and you love it as it is.

Resources: Cornerstone of Southern California

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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