Childhood Depression

Adults are not the only one who suffer from depression, but children suffer too. It is important that we as adults, parents and teachers know what signs and symptoms to look for. Children are not as articulate as adults so they may not be able to find the words to explain what is going on with them and how they are feeling. This puts the responsibility on adults in a child’s life to recognize signs of trouble and help them cope.

Children are faced with many difficulties that they are ill-equipped to handle such as loss, divorce, poverty, abuse, etc. The powerlessness that children feel in many of these situations can last well into their adulthood. An important factor to consider in childhood depression is that it may be a biologically based illness. It is caused by an imbalance in brain chemistry, to where a child’s perception about themselves and the world is distorted.

When you are looking for warning signs of depression in children they fall within four basic categories: cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral issues. Not every child will experience every symptoms, but usually a combination of a few signs are present though.

Typical Emotional Signs found in Children

Sadness – feelings of despondency and hopelessness

Loss of interest and pleasure in things formerly enjoyed

Anxiety – anxious, tense or panicked

Turmoil – feelings of worry and irritability

Typical Cognitive Signs of Depression in Children

Difficulty organizing thoughts concentrating or remembering

Negative views of people and circumstances

Worthlessness and guilt over their perceived faults and failures

Helplessness and hopelessness

Feelings of isolation

Suicidal thoughts

Typical Physical Signs of Depression in Children

Changes in appetite or weight increasing or decreasing

Problems sleeping: difficulty falling asleep or staying awake

Sluggishness – do things in at a overall slower pace

Agitation

Typical Behavioral signs of Depression in Children

Avoidance and withdrawal from activities and responsibilities

Clinging and demanding becoming dependent on some relationships

Activities in excess

Restlessness, fidgeting, acting out, reckless behavior

Self-Harm, or take excessive risks

If signs of depression are seen in a child it is best to promptly seek out professional help. Work along with a professional to secure the right treatment for the child.

Sources: Mental Health America formally National Mental Health Association

nmha.org