Along with adults, depression, as an illness, can also be found in children. Parents should be aware of the causes and signs of depression and look for the appropriate treatment.
Around 4-5% of children, all over the world, are found to suffer from depression. It is often confused with irritability and melancholy, and hence, is not quickly diagnosed. Depression is not a long-lasting illness and can be cured completely. It is necessary to identify the signs at the earliest.
Problems in the family, at school, related to academics, stress of any kind, illness, disability of any kind, failure, loss of a loved one, or a friend, etc., are some of the prominent causes. Children lack the maturity to understand and cope with grave problems, failure or loss, and hence, tend to suffer from depression. More often than not, children (and even adults) have a difficulty in coming to terms with certain situations or accepting sudden change.
Signs and Symptoms
It is essential to keep a watch on the behavior and changes in behavior of your child.
- Constant feeling of hopelessness
- Constant feeling of sadness, sorrow, glum
- Low confidence, feeling of worthlessness, low energy
- Living in seclusion
- Withdrawal from several activities, sitting still or sleeping for long time
- Changes in eating habits and loss of appetite leading to weight loss
- Insomnia, changing sleeping pattern
- When probed, shows irritability, irritation, crankiness
- Memory lapses, lack of concentration
- Lethargy, lack of motivation and enthusiasm
- Suicidal thoughts
Sometimes, the child may even turn to drug and alcohol abuse. Abnormality/changes in behavior should not be ignored, or taken lightly.
Depression should be considered as an illness and should be treated with professional help. An early diagnosis can help the child/teen to get out of the condition as early as possible. It can be treated with several methods like psychotherapy, with medications, etc. Psychotherapy and counseling by a professional psychologist or a psychiatrist can be helpful. Medication should be taken only under a doctor’s supervision, or it can lead to severe side effects and can also be fatal. At the same time, help and support of the loved ones is crucial.
As a parent or a guardian, you should make sure that the child attends counseling regularly, and also takes medication regularly. Secondly, you should try to maintain a positive and encouraging atmosphere at home, and encourage the child/teen to overcome depression. You should also make sure that he/she has meals on time and has regular sleeping patterns. Lastly, it is also wise not to let the child/teen alone, as in this phase, they usually have suicidal thoughts.
Lastly, as aforementioned, parents should keep a watch on the child’s behavior, have talks with him/her regularly, and try to maintain a healthy relationship. Strong and healthy family relations help in the prevention of depression to a great extent.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not intend to replace the advice of a medical professional.