What are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Children and Adolescents?
Childhood Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by a sad mood that is both prolonged and severe. While every child may experience symptoms differently, some of the most common symptoms include:
Persistent feelings of sadness
Hopelessness, helplessness or inadequacy
Hypersensitivity to failure or rejection
Instability, hostility or aggression
Loss of interest in activities that once brought happiness
Sleeping too much or too little
Changes in appetite
Frequent physical complaints about headaches, stomach aches or fatigue
Difficulty concentrating and/or making decisions
Difficulty managing relationships
Running away or making threats to run away from home
Suicidal thoughts or attempts
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Major Depression?
While Major Depression is a frightening proposition for parents, it can be treated with medication, therapy and hospitalization, if necessary. If your child has Major Depression, he or she may be grappling with the symptoms listed above. In addition, he or she may:
Feel irritable for most of the day, nearly every day
Show a noticeable decrease in interest or pleasure in nearly all activities
Exhibit very little energy and a lack of focus and concentration
Wrestle with feelings of worthlessness, extreme guilt and perhaps even a lack of desire to live
Three other conditions must exist before a child can be diagnosed with Major Depression:
The symptoms must persist for at least two weeks.
The symptoms must be causing distress and/or negatively impact his or her ability to function at home, at school or with friends.
The mood must represent a distinct change from how he or she acted previously.
How do I Know my Child Isn’t Suffering from Grief?
Grief is a natural and normal response to loss. While Grief and Depression share certain symptoms – including sadness, indulging in too much or too little sleep and changes in eating patterns – Grief is not as prolonged as Depression. A grieving person may feel very sad when thinking about or remembering a loss, but his or her mood will generally improve around friends and family. Someone who is suffering from Depression rarely finds relief from his or her sadness.
What are the Risks of Depression?
The risks of Depression can be serious and wide-ranging. This is why a child who is presumed to be suffering from Depression should be evaluated as soon as possible. Left untreated, Depression can lead to:
Failure in school
Involvement in risky behaviors
Difficulties carrying out school and job responsibilities
Relationship problems in adulthood
Attempted or successful suicide
Read More – What Parents Need to Know about Childhood and Adolescent Depression