A common mistake that many adults make is thinking that only adults suffer from depression. The truth is even children can suffer from depression. As many as 1 in every 33 children may have depression. In teenagers, the number can be as high as 1 in 8.
If you are questioning whether your child is showing symptoms, then it is a good time to learn about depression and how to help if your child, or a child you know, seems depressed.
There are many different types of depression. Major depression, dysthymia, adjustment disorder with depressed mood, seasonal affective disorder, and bipolar disorder (or manic depression) are the types that affect kids and teenagers the most.
Depression isn’t typically caused by only one thing. Most of the time it is caused by many different things put together. Depression can also run in families so if you have a close family member that has it, then your child’s odds of developing depression are slightly higher. It can also be a side effect of some medications.
To meet criteria for a diagnosis of depression, five or more of these symptoms must be present for longer than 2 weeks:
- a feeling of being down in the dumps or really sad for no reason
- a lack of energy, feeling unable to do the simplest task
- an inability to enjoy the things that used to bring pleasure
- a lack of desire to be with friends or family members
- feelings of irritability (especially common in kids and teens), anger, or anxiety
- an inability to concentrate
- a marked weight gain or loss (or failure to gain weight as expected), and too little or too much interest in eating
- a significant change in sleep habits, such as trouble falling asleep or getting up
- feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- aches and pains even though nothing is physically wrong
- a lack of caring about what happens in the future
- frequent thoughts about death or suicide
If you think that your child has depression, it is important to take action and get them help. Some parents don’t want to admit that their child could be depressed and dismiss signs or think that they will go away. Other time parents don’t get their child help because they feel guilty and think it is their fault.
Parents often feel responsible for things going on with their kids, but parents don’t cause depression. However, it is true that parental separation, illness, death, or other separation can cause short-term problems for kids, and sometimes can trigger a problem with longer term depression.
It is important to let your child know that you are always there for them and that you are there when they need you. Remember, kids who are depressed may see the world very negatively because their experiences are shaped by their depression. They might act like they don’t want help or might not even know what they are really experiencing.
The good news is that depression can be successfully treated in more than 80% of cases. If it goes untreated, it can be deadly. It is important to get your child help and diagnosed as soon as you suspect your child has depression