Childhood and Teenage Depression - What Parents Should Know
Challenges Kids Face
Children faced with depression often have difficulty fitting into various social situations because they’ve been hampered in their ability to develop necessary interpersonal skills to meet social norms. Additionally, clinically depressed children frequently find that their learning has been hindered due to their affected state of mind.
With children, what might be considered most concerning is the fact that the symptoms of depression are often attributed to normal hormonal changes or typical attitude fluctuations that accompany phases of growth. Yet, the increase in the teen suicide rate in this country points to the importance of recognizing the signs of depression versus behaviors driven by normal challenges confronting youth.
Parents Should Be Aware of These Symptoms:
While some of the signs of depression in children and teens might actually be normal, your son or daughter might be depressed if he/she exhibits any of the following behaviors or symptoms for at least two weeks:
- Feels particularly blue and acts moody
- Withdrawals from social situations
- Doesn’t want to eat or eats more than usual
- Sleeps a lot, or actually has insomnia
- Has a loss of energy
- Withdrawals from usual activities such as hobbies or sports
- Complains often about chronic pain
- Is unusually self-critical
- Has trouble concentrating
- Exhibits self-destructive behaviors, such as cutting or partaking in drugs or alcohol use
- Comments that life has no meaning, or talks about death frequently
If you have concerns that your child’s symptoms go beyond normal teen-age angst, it is important for them to be evaluated by a mental health professional. If left untreated, effects of depression can lead to a host of additional concerns for both the child and parents, including a higher risk of suicide. Additionally, the longer a person goes with untreated depression, the more difficult it can be to actually treat it effectively.
With a high rate at which youth is treated for depression with successful outcomes, the benefits of seeking an assessment and treatment for a child that is suspected to be depressed far outweigh any drawbacks.