Depression in Kids
Earlier it was believed that only adults developed depression and that children and teens could not. We now know that even a young child can develop serious depression that requires treatment to improve. However, symptoms of depression in children and teens can be difficult to recognize.
What causes depression in kids?
Causes are still unknown, however it can be triggered by:
- Stressful life events, such as a loss of a family member or relative.
- Having a parent or immediate family member who is depressed.
- Having a long-term medical illness such as diabetes or epilepsy.
- Having another mental disorder, such as anxiety disorder.
- Being physically or sexually abused.
- Having problems with alcohol or drugs.
- Genetic (inherited). Children with a family history of depression are much more likely to become depressed, especially if they have a parent who is presently depressed.
- Being a girl in early puberty. After puberty and as adults, females are twice as likely as males to become depressed.
- Family conflicts, especially between parents.
How to diagnose depression in kids:
- Always tired, plays sick
- Drops out of favourite activities - social withdrawal
- Has more arguments with parents, friends and teachers
- Refuses to do homework or loses interest in school
- Engages in harmful behaviour, such as cutting himself or herself
- Has suicidal thoughts.
- Physical symptoms e.g., stomach aches and headaches, hallucinations, and extreme fears.
What happens, if left untreated?
Depression in children, if untreated, can affect:
- school performance and learning,
- social interactions and development of normal peer relationships,
- self-esteem and a child's sense of bonding and trust,
- can lead to drug abuse, disruptive behaviours, violence and aggression,
- even lead to suicide
Childhood depression is a serious problem that demands a serious medical approach. However, you need to first recognize what is causing it.
How to treat depression in kids?
Treatment for childhood and teen depression includes a combination of professional counselling, medications, and family co-operation.
Home treatment and family involvement:
Do everything possible to provide a supportive and understanding family environment to your child. Love, understanding, and regular communication are some of the most important things you should provide to help your child cope with depression. Make him feel that you are there for him always.
Good lifestyle habits can help reduce your child's symptoms of depression. Encourage your child to:
- Get regular exercise, such as swimming, walking.
- Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs.
- Get enough sleep
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Be optimistic about feeling better. Positive thinking is very important in recovering from depression.
Some symptoms of depression in children and teens may remain, even with medication and other treatment. Early treatment of depression may bring about the best results for your child. Think positive, recovery will happen, but gradually.