Depression in children is a serious health concern that can lead to a loss of self-esteem, lowered grades and a lack of interest in their normal activities. While many children experience periods of sadness, serious depression in children can continue for many weeks. Because children often lack the words to describe how they are feeling, it is important for the adults in their lives to be able to recognize the signs of depression in children so that they can seek help for their condition before it leads to serious consequences.
Signs of Depression in Children
Children with depression often display shifting moods that include sadness or crying. This may occur as a result of a major life change such as a death in the family or a recent move, or it can seem to happen without any obvious reason. Very young children may also express their sadness through tantrums or trouble sleeping. Older children and teenagers often experience a drop in their grades and a lack of interest in activities that were once interesting to them. They may also stop spending time with their friends and prefer to be alone. Additionally, many children experience physical symptoms of depression that include stomachaches, headaches and a lack of appetite that do not respond to normal treatment.
When to Seek Help
In children, experiencing sadness for longer than two weeks is a sign that it is time to seek professional help. While many parents may be in denial that their child has a problem, delaying treatment can only allow the depression to get worse. The more negative effects that a child’s depression has on their life, then the harder it will be to overcome their illness. Additionally, serious depression in older children has been linked to an increased risk of suicide. A licensed psychiatrist or physician will be able to diagnose depression and recommend types of treatments such as medication or therapy at a depression treatment center.
Types of Treatment
Depression in children is treated through the use of several different methods. In many instances, depression can be treated through psychotherapy or counseling. Children with serious depression may find that medications can help to alleviate their symptoms while they work towards finding coping methods that help with their sadness. In some cases of depression residential treatment can be necessary in order to allow children to have the support of professional psychiatric staff members who can monitor their progress towards recovery.
When depression strikes in young children, it is important to act quickly so that they can receive the treatment that they need to recover. When a child experiences prolonged sadness that lasts longer than two weeks, and it is beginning to cause them to have problems academically and socially, then it is time to seek help from a professional who has experience in treating depression in children.