MotherhoodRaising a baby

Can Children Really Have Depression?

Yes. Childhood depression is different from the normal “blues” and everyday emotions that children go through as they develop. Just because a child seems sad doesn’t necessarily mean they have significant depression. But if the sadness becomes persistent or interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, or family life, it may mean they have a depressive illness. Keep in mind that while depression is a serious illness, it’s also a treatable one.

How Can I Tell if My Child Is Depressed?

The symptoms of depression in children vary. The condition is often undiagnosed and untreated because symptoms are passed off as normal emotional and psychological changes. Early medical studies focused on “masked” depression, where a child’s depressed mood was evidenced by acting out or angry behavior. While this does happen, particularly in younger children, many children display sadness or low mood similar to adults who are depressed. The primary symptoms of depression revolve around sadness, a feeling of hopelessness, and mood changes.

Signs and symptoms of depression in children include:

  • Crankiness or anger
  • Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Being more sensitive to rejection
  • Changes in appetite, either increased or decreased
  • Changes in sleep (sleeplessness or excessive sleep)
  • Vocal outbursts or crying
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Physical complaints (such as stomachaches and headaches) that don’t respond to treatment
  • Trouble during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, during extracurricular activities, and with other hobbies or interests
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Impaired thinking or concentration
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Not all children have all of these symptoms. In fact, most will show different symptoms at different times and in different settings. Although some children may continue to do reasonably well in structured environments, most kids with significant depression will have a noticeable change in social activities, loss of interest in school, poor academic performance, or a change in appearance. Children may also begin using drugs or alcohol, especially if they are over age 12.

Although relatively rare in youths under 12, young children do attempt suicide — and may do so impulsively when they are upset or angry. Girls are more likely to attempt suicide, but boys are more likely to actually kill themselves when they make an attempt. Children with a family history of violence, alcohol abuse, or physical or sexual abuse are at greater risk for suicide, as are those with depressive symptoms.

Source
Webmd

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