Depression in Children

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It is confusing and upsetting to watch your child suffer from depression. The good news is that depression is very treatable and does get better! Some children are at higher risk for becoming depressed (those who are under stress, who experience loss, or who have attentional, learning, conduct or anxiety disorders).  Children with parents or other family members with depression also at higher risk.

Children with depression are often untreated as adults may miss the signs, not appreciate the significance of what is going on, or children may not full disclose the extent of their distress. Recognizing the signs of depression is essential to getting help so kids can feel better.

The following are signs of depression:

  • frequent sadness, tearfulness, and/or crying
  • decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
  • hopelessness
  • persistent boredom; low energy
  • social isolation, poor communication
  • low self-esteem and guilt
  • extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • increased irritability, anger, or hostility
  • frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches and stomachaches
  • frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
  • decreased concentration
  • a major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • desire/attempt to run away from home
  • thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-destructive behavior

A child who used to play often with friends may now spend most of the time alone and without interests. Things that were previously enjoyable now bring little excitement to the depressed child. Children who are depressed may say they want to be dead or may talk about suicide. Older children who are depressed may abuse alcohol or other drugs as a way of trying to feel better. Some children who are depressed may demonstrate acting out behavior and get in trouble at home or at school. Because the youngster may not always seem sad, parents and teachers may not realize that the acting out behavior is a sign of depression. However, when asked directly, these children will acknowledge being unhappy/depressed.

Comprehensive treatment often includes both individual and family therapy. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) are forms of individual therapy shown to be effective in treating depression. Treatment may also include the use of antidepressant medication.

If you are concerned that your child may be suffering from depression, please contact the Linden team.

Links:

Aggression

Behavioral problems

Sleep problems

Academic concerns

Grief

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