For a multitude of reasons, depression is becoming more and more prevalent among children. For parents and guardians, knowing the signs of this condition is important so that appropriate support or intervention can be offered to the young person who is suffering. Below are some of the most common types of depression that occur in children, the symptoms to watch out for, and what to expect at the point of diagnosis.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Children with this type of depression will usually be affected by symptoms in the winter months when the days are shorter and therefore the number of sunlight hours are reduced.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Kids suffering from MDD will experience depressive symptoms of significant severity for more than two weeks.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
Depressive symptoms are not as intense with PDD but persist for more than a year in the child affected.
Adjustment Disorder With Depressed Mood
A child would be diagnosed with this condition if depressive symptoms occur up to three months after the child has experienced an upsetting or disruptive event, such as a death in the family or a house move. A diagnosis is only given if the child’s life is being impacted by the condition, and if the reaction is not commensurate with the event that has preceded it.
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)
A child experiencing DMDD will have persistent feelings of anger, aggression and irritability, manifesting throughout the course of most days, and that has lasted over a year. Only kids over the age of 6 can be diagnosed with this condition.
Spotting Symptoms Of Depression
Being vigilant for symptoms of depression in your child is vital, to ensure that, should they begin to suffer from any of the above conditions, help can be sought. Depression is a treatable condition, and there are many options available to alleviate the symptoms and to resolve the underlying issue(s).
One of the easiest symptoms to spot is low mood. All children can be grumpy or sad at times – as can all adults – and a reasonable amount of mood variation is normal and healthy. However, if your child is persistently low, and this continues for a significant length of time, it could be time to consider speaking with your GP. Sometimes kids mask the symptoms of depression, and the condition can manifest as anger. Anger and aggression are also symptomatic of some forms of depression, so if you notice any change of mood that concerns you, it is worth seeking advice.
Changes in appetite are also a red flag for depression: both under and overeating is a warning sign that all is not right. Disturbed sleep, too, is a symptom of depression, as are physical problems such as stomach pains and headaches, or general fatigue. All of these things are easily attributable to other issues, and so vigilance to any change is paramount.
If your child begins to withdraw, from family or from their friendship group, this should also ring warning bells, as kids with depression will often deliberately isolate themselves.
‘Children who suddenly develop behavioural problems could be suffering from depression,’ says Samuel Greene, writer at OXEssays and Studydemic. ‘Keeping in close contact with your child’s school is an excellent way of monitoring things if you have concerns.’
There is no straightforward test that can accurately diagnose depression. If your child has symptoms of depression or anxiety that have lasted more than two weeks, it is a good idea to make an appointment to see your child’s GP. At the GP’s office, the doctor will likely talk with your child (possibly alone) and yourself about the symptoms your child is experiencing, and any event that could have triggered the condition.
As a result of talking with your GP, your child may be referred for a psychological evaluation, or for counselling. Medication may also be considered, and the options here will be discussed with you. Psychotherapy and medication are often suggested as a joint treatment- therapeutic sessions focusing on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can also be very effective at tackling both the symptoms and root causes of depressive conditions.
‘Things like ensuring a healthy diet is maintained, and that your child is getting enough sleep are vital in preventing, and helping to combat, depression,’ says Elise Edger, a health expert at Revieweal and Essay Services. ‘Making small changes, like encouraging your child to incorporate more exercise into their daily schedule, can make a huge difference.’
Early intervention is crucial in helping support children with depression, both to manage the symptoms and to help prevent the condition deteriorate. If you notice anything unusual in your child’s behaviour, that lasts longer than two weeks, seek medical advice. Should your child display any potential suicidal tendencies, seek immediate medical help.
Depression is a common symptom that can be overcome or managed effectively. For some children, a depressive episode will be a one-off, temporary condition; for others, it may be a state that comes and goes throughout their adult lives. With effective treatment, however, in the form of medication, therapy, or a combined approach, most children are able to experience a huge amelioration in their symptoms or make a full recovery.
Lauren Groff is a content writer at Essay Writing Services and Via Writing, and is an editor at Assignment writing services reviews. She writes widely about mental health and the changing attitudes towards mental health issues. Lauren has two children and enjoys reading and a variety of sports.