Recognizing Depression in Children
Is depression possible in children? What does is look like? Is it different from the blues or moodiness that can be common with children as they go through the difficulties of life? Although we tend to think of our children as resilient in the face of life’s difficulties and having happy dispositions, depression is possible during childhood.
According to WebMD, depression in children is a persistent sadness that can interfere with normal social interactions with peers, previous interests, schoolwork, and family interactions. Your child may no longer be interested or be less interested in spending time with his or her friends or your family. Activities your child was previously interested in such as sports, crafts, movies, or other fun leisure activities may not be of interest to any longer. Although not uncommon for every child, completing homework or studying for tests are even more difficult to complete for a child with depression. These can all be symptoms of depression in children.
Some physical indicators of depression in children according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website can include sleepiness or difficulty sleeping, low energy, crying, or change in eating habits. A change in your child’s sleeping habits, whether they are sleeping more during the day or having trouble sleeping at night, could be an indication of depression. Children are normally full of energy, but if your child seems to be unusually tired, this could be an indicator of depression. Crying or unusual sadness are commonly assumed symptoms of depression by many people, but as noted by the other symptoms, are not the only indicators of depression. Increased or decreased appetite in a child could also be an indication of depression. There are several physical symptoms of depression that go beyond symptoms commonly recognized by the general population.
The Effects of Depression in Children
Depression in children is so much more than just feeling sad or any of the symptoms mentioned above. According to KidsHealth.org, children who are depressed can feel worthless, rejected, and unloved. Children’s grades can drop and their relationships may suffer all as a result of depression. HealthyChildren.org states a child can even complain of various physical aches and pains when there is no reason for these complaints. Depression reaches far beyond what a parent would first think of.
Parents are encouraged to keep an eye out for these symptoms of depression in their children as early diagnosis and treatment is key for success in treatment and later life. Although only 5% of children and adolescents are diagnosed with clinical depression according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, no one is exempt. Depression should never steal a child’s joy during their childhood.