It is believed that depression occurs in adults, unworldly and “disappointed in everything” people. Or, in extreme cases, teenagers – with their boyish maximalism, first one-sided love, problems with classmates or parents. But, in reality, depression can be found even among children. Moreover, it is often compounded by the fact that parents generally perceive the signs of depression in children as laziness, licentiousness, whims, etc. Methods of “cure” from this “evil” are usually cruel and bitter, that only make the situation worse.
So, how to recognize depression in children and what are causes and treatment?
Depression in children: symptoms
There are many symptoms of depression in children, the onset of certain symptoms to the fore depends on the child’s age, the conditions of his life and some other reasons. It is worth to know that depression in children begins with a few primary symptoms such as inexplicable sadness, mood swings and the feeling of hopelessness. Basic symptoms of depression include:
- Problems with appetite (loss or, on the contrary, increased appetite);
- Insomnia or constant sleepiness;
- Irritability or anger;
- Frequent mood swings – from sadness to aggression, from aggression to excitement and joy;
- A sense of hopelessness and worthlessness;
- Suicidal thoughts;
- Loss of desire to communicate with other children;
- A sense of “boredom” and the lack of interest in anything;
- Outbreak of whims, tears, and tantrums;
- Chronic fatigue;
- Problems with memory;
- Distraction, problems with concentration;
- Slowness and awkwardness;
- Bad education;
- Increased anxiety;
- Physical ailments, the reasons for which doctors cannot find (usually a headache and abdominal pain);
- Dizziness, weakness, nausea, various unexplainable pains;
- Apathy and the lack of activity;
- In adolescence, the child may have problems with alcohol or drugs.
In addition to these signs, depression may also be accompanied with hypersensitivity, compassion to someone and discontent attitude towards them by others so children start doubting their love. Typically, children with depression often ask parents whether they like them but they are satisfied when receiving a positive answer. With the same purpose to achieve expressions of love, children may deliberately behave as if toddlers and they meet any dissatisfaction of the parents with their whims, tears, and shouts, threats, including demonstrative suicide attempts.
Junior high school students with depression often refuse to go to school, afraid to answer during the classes and forget the material when asked – that leads to bad marks.
Depression in children: causes
Formally, depression in children has 3 groups of causes. The first group is recognized as a complication of various infectious diseases (flu, sore throat, pneumonia, etc.). The second group of depression in children is recognized as a result of stress (acute or chronic). These stresses may include the death or serious illness of loved ones, the divorce of parents, conflicts with classmates or a teacher, an urgent need to go to the hospital due to serious illness and, accordingly, a sudden change of environment, and so on. The third group is characterized by the violence of biochemical processes in the brain causing depression that may be unrelated to any external factors.
Another group of seasonal disorders explains the sensitivity of the child to the changes of climate.
Depression is more common in children from 10 to 16 years old, but may also appear earlier and later, for instance, during adulthood. During the earlier age, depression is usually accompanied with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or conduct disorder.
Depression in children is very often “inherited” – that is, children, whose parents have ever suffered from depression, are more likely to develop this disease. The risk group includes children from dysfunctional families (children of alcoholics, drug addicts, families where domestic violence is common).
Depression in children: treatment
It is worth to remember that depression in children is a disease and it requires treatment. Especially if it is a severe one. What should parents do to help their children to get rid of depression?
First of all, you have to take seriously the child’s illness and do not think that it is a bad mood and he is a naughty child. After all, parents often delay seeking professional help, preferring “not to see” depression in children. There are many cases when parents force their children study better, punish them, and isolate their offspring from other children or do not give a child the opportunity to take a break from classes. But by all these ways parents only make the condition of the baby worse, and depression in children gets worse as well.
The best way to overcome depression in children is to consult a child or family psychologist, who can discover the causes of depression and explain the rules for parents’ behavior. It should be understood that a timely visit to the specialist will not only help to get rid of depression but also to prevent child’s problems in the future – after all depressive episodes in children affects the rest of their lives. Consequences of depression in adolescence may be very different.
Thus, it is definitely needed to plan a visit to a specialist if you notice signs of depression in your child, especially if they persist for more than two weeks. Before going to the doctor, explain to the child that his behavior is caused by a disease and it is curable. Children, in spite of external aggression, often blame themselves for their bad behavior. The task of the parents, in this case, is to convince the child that it is not his fault. No one has not canceled parental support, even a healthy child requires it.
Allow your baby to communicate with other children and go to school. Even if he does not want to communicate – classmates are usually sympathetic to his comrade and they try to help and protect him. With additional support from teachers and parents, the child will not feel any discomfort in the classroom.
The main task of teachers and parents in this situation is to reveal the natural interests and talents of the child and focus primarily on them. Depression in children cannot be treated without the willingness and active participation of the child himself. You have to send the child on the right path – in this case, depression is no longer dangerous for him!
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