Depression in Children: Steps You Can Follow to Help Your Child

As we know, the rates of childhood depression increased massively over the last few years. Many children have worries and anxieties to make them feel depressed and helpless from time to time. Additionally, Intense fears can arise at different times during growth.

Because of unfortunate events, children get separated from their parents even when they are healthy. This can trigger separation anxiety.

Also, we don’t have the data and knowledge about childhood depression compared to other subjects.

This is because various people all over the world are still unsure whether children can be depressed or not?

Fears and anxieties are common in adolescents. Anxiety or depression may be triggered in children/adolescents, causing persistent or intense fear and distress.

What is depression?

Depression is a psychiatric illness characterized by persistent feelings of depression, irritability, loss of life desire, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts. It influences the way you feel, think, and act.

Periodically, people suffering from depression often report changes in their sleeping and eating habits and have difficulty focusing. The diagnosis of depression occurs when these symptoms continue for two weeks or more. And interfere with a person’s ability to work.

Some facts about childhood depression

  • Childhood depression is a real, distinct psychiatric entity.
  • It is a severe health disorder that raises potential, prolonged, and more severe depressive symptoms if left untreated. Untreated childhood and adolescence depression can pose a risk of suicide.
  • There are biochemical, psychological, and social underpinnings of depression. An individualized treatment plan that examines each of these factors and discusses them works best.
  • Successful treatment strategies for childhood and adolescent depression have been extensively tested, confirmed, and developed through various clinical studies over the years.
  • Childhood depression may be concealed and often overlooked. Timely diagnosis and care can be life-changing and life-saving.
  • The obstacles surrounding the stigma of mental health are starting to give way to strong social movements.

How common is a depression in children?

According to the National Center of Mental Health statistics, at least 3.3% of children (aged from 13 to 18) suffered from severe depression.

The American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry reports this figure to be 5%. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in young people between the ages of 10 to 24 years.

Types of depressive disorder in children

Children can suffer multiple forms of depression and mood disorders. A certified mental health practitioner may identify the symptoms of your child and prescribe the right medication.

The most prevalent forms of depression and mood disorders in children are:

Adjustment disorder with depressed mood 

This condition explains depressive moods within three months after an unsettling or traumatic occurrence (family loss or parental separation). 

Bipolar disorder 

Diagnosis of bipolar disorder describes episodic phases of mania (persistently euphoric or irritable mood associated with a rise in goal-oriented behavior) overlapping with episodic cycles of depression. Bipolar depression in children is rare. Sudden outbursts in rage are not bipolar disorder.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) 

DMDD is a disorder in which a child over the age of 6 has a long-lasting and intense history of irritability, hostility, rage, extreme tantrums, and repeated outbursts. The child’s attitude remains persistently irritable or upset most of the day, almost every day, even in temperate outbursts, and has been like this for over a year.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) 

MDD is a depressive disorder in which a person develops moderate to serious depression. Nevertheless, this behavior lasts for more than two weeks.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) 

SAD is a seasonal pattern type of MDD. In this type of depression, the children develop symptoms during winter months (days are shorter).

Signs and symptoms of depression in children

The symptoms of depression in adults can differ from that of children. Irritability and/or frustration are more common symptoms of depression in children and teenagers.

Other signs of depression in children and teenagers can include:

  • Runaway from home or speak of running away from home
  • Loss of participation in daily fun events
  • Not taking part in social or usual fun activities.
  • They continuously feel sad or hopeless.
  • Crying or tempering tantrums
  • Difficulty to relax and concentrate
  • Feelings of worthlessness or shame
  • Eating less than normal
  • Overeating
  • Interact less with friends and family
  • self-harm by cutting off their skin or taking an overdose.

Nevertheless, it is common for a few children to have issues with both fear and depression.

They may have physical symptoms as well; headache and stomach ache. School issues may be a symptom of depression in adolescents and young adults. Older children who are depressed can use drugs or alcohol.

What causes depression in children?

There may be lots of contributing factors to childhood depression. Some of them are described below:

  • Family problems
  • Physical illness
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Stress in life
  • Environmental or social factors

Steps to help your depressed child

If you’re afraid that your child will slip into depression, don’t stress. The steps below can help:

Make Certain Plans Together

Work together to create ideas or events to make your child more involved.

This can be done by having fun exploring skills in an online dancing/singing class. You can get started by searching for fun classes online and developing a practice space project. Try to encourage them to start online social media groups or set up plans for movies if they miss being social.

Have a Sense of Perspective 

People with depression raise concerns or pay attention only to negative details, ignoring positive incidents and experiences. Help your child from exaggerating or obsessing how bad things are right now.

Stay Active

Encourage children to participate in experiences that can give them a feeling of success, enjoyment, fun, or social interaction every day.

Your priority is your child’s safety

If your child continues to exhibit signs of depression, it is important to seek clinical treatment. Speak to the child’s pediatrician or primary care provider to refer to a mental health specialist or mental health professional. 

If your child or teen is involved in things that lead you to fear about their future safety and you are worried about them undergoing suicide attempts or other types of self-harm. Take them directly to the closest emergency department or dial 911. The health of your child is a top priority.

Always remember it is better to be safe than sorry.

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