Childhood Depression Can Occur at Any Time
Depression is a very real disorder. It's been referred to as the common cold of mental illnesses. Approximately five per cent of children will develop a form of depression. Too often, depression in children is overlooked or misdiagnosed. It may not be diagnosed until the child is clearly showing behavioral issues. Unfortunately, depression can impede a child's development. Medical intervention is essential.
What are the symptoms of depression in kids?
Although the symptoms can be similar to adult depression, erratic behaviors that may mimic another disorder can also manifest itself in children. If your child is exhibiting any of the symptoms listed below for longer than two weeks, contact your family physician for a referral to a mental health specialist. It is noted that individuals will naturally have symptoms of depression after a life altering event. This does not mean that the individual is suffering from clinical depression.
Does your child have these behaviors?
o Overly sensitive, constant whining and/or crying.
o Aggressive behaviors.
o Changes in eating patterns, including weight loss or gains.
o Sleeping issues, a need for more sleep or the inability to fall asleep.
o Problems staying focused, and a lack of interest in favorite activities.
o Drug or alcohol use.
o Self-abusive behaviors. Negative comments about self.
o A decline in school work.
o Peer/friend problems.
o Talks about dying or wishing that they were never born.
o Excessive fears.
We can't make our child "snap out of it."
It is crucial to seek medical intervention, particularly during a child's developing years. Not only can depression hamper development, it can create negative behavioral patterns that a child could likely carry over into adulthood. Depression can hamper learning and social abilities. Repercussions can last a lifetime if qualified care is not received.
Treatment is readily available.
Without treatment, a depressive episode will typically last about nine months and can reoccur. A treated episode of depression is usually much shorter in duration. Treatment gives the child/family lifelong coping skills.
o A thorough medical/diagnostic evaluation.
o An evaluation of family dynamics.
o An evaluation of the social-educational setting.
o Family and individual therapy.
o Changes in school environment or classroom setting if required.
o Medications, if needed are available to stabilize moods and anxieties.
o Empowering the child and family by educating them about depression.
There are numerous resources available in communities where you can seek advice and support. Don't be afraid or ashamed to seek medical assistance immediately. The sooner a treatment plan is implemented, the sooner your child will recover.