Childhood / Adolescent Depression

Signs and Symptoms of Childhood / Adolescent Depression

Childhood / Adolescent 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
  • Low self-esteem
  • Hypersensitivity to failure or rejection
  • Instability, hostility or aggression
  • Excessive guilt
  • Loss of interest in activities that once brought happiness
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Changes in appetite
  • Decreased energy
  • 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

Signs and Symptoms of Major Depression in Childhood and Adolescence

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.

Grief and Depression

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.

Risks of Childhood / Adolescent 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