The idea of depression in children might seem like an unlikely thing to worry about. After all, isn’t childhood meant to be the happiest days of our lives? The fact is though that children can suffer from depression and it is probably a lot more common than most of us would like to admit. A study in the UK by the Office of National Statistics suggests that perhaps as many as 4% of five to sixteen year olds might have to deal with problems like depression (cited by NHS Choices). The ability to recognize the symptoms of depression in children is important because the sooner we can do this the sooner children can get help.
How to Recognize the Symptoms of Depression in Children
It can be hard to recognize depression in children; especially when they are going through puberty. We need to be able to notice changes in behavior and not just assume that everything is a ‘stage they are going through’ or put it down to raging hormones. There are signs to look out for which might indicate depression including;
– Frequent tearfulness
– Unable to concentrate on school work or on things they previously enjoyed
– Signs that they have lost interest in their appearance
– Dropping friends and spending increasingly longer periods alone
– Overeating or reduced appetite
– Low self-esteem
– Disruptive behavior or stealing
– Withdrawn and hard to communicate with
– Accident prone
One or two of these symptoms alone would not be enough to determine depression, but they should be enough to indicate that further investigation is needed.
What to Do if You Recognize the symptoms of Depression in Children
The most important thing is to deal with the problem as soon as possible. If the problem is allowed to continue for too long it could have a lasting impact. It is important to talk to the child and attempt to elicit their thoughts on what is going on. Children can be depressed for all types of reasons and just talking about these things can help. Never just brush off a child’s concerns as not being important; they are important to the child and it is this that is causing them pain. There are lots of treatment options available if depression persists, and you can begin to get help by speaking to your child’s doctor about the problem.
BBC – Children with Mental Health Problems
NHS Choices – Is Your Child Depressed?
Mayo Clinic – Children’s Health; Depression treatment for children: What works?