We commonly think of depression as something that only affects adults. However, in recent years, there has been a sharp rise in children and young adults diagnosed with depression and mental health problems.
Kids might not always be comfortable talking about their mental health or may feel too embarrassed to talk about their symptoms. The good news is that the awareness of mental health is increasing worldwide, and there are now a wide variety of treatments available to help children manage any mental health problems they may have. This post will highlight some of the common signs of depression in children and the different kinds of treatment available.
Things to Look out For
As children develop, it is quite common for them to have the odd temper tantrum or bout of melancholy as their bodies grow and develop. These spells are usually temporary, and a good night’s rest will often help out. However, when a child has prolonged periods of sadness, bad moods, or behaviors that are out of the norm, there may be something else at play.
Common signs of depression in kids include:
- Angry outbursts
- Loss of interest in activities they usually enjoy
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Changes to their appetite — possibly avoiding food or binge-eating
- Concentration problems
- Loss of confidence
- Emotional issues, such as feeling empty, numb, or worthless.
- Physical symptoms — headaches, stomachaches, and muscle pains
It is quite common for kids with depression to have problems at school. They may lose interest in their studies, resulting in declining grades, or they might start displaying defiant behavior. Your child may claim that nothing is wrong, but any behavioral changes that continue over a prolonged period are usually warning signs that something might be going on.
Why Do Kids Get Depressed?
Many factors may lead to a child becoming depressed. Stressful environments are a typical trigger, with an event such as a child’s parents getting divorced, moving to a new home, or an unstable home environment having a massive impact on a child’s mental health.
Bullying at school is also a common cause of depression, and a family history of mental health and chemical imbalances in the brain can lead to changes in behavior and depression.
What Should I Do if I Think My Child Is Depressed?
The first thing you should do is try to speak with your child about how they are feeling. Offering a supportive environment and letting them know that it is okay to feel the way they feel will help. But remember not to pressure them; your child may not understand what is going on and may not be able to articulate how they are feeling. The best thing you can do is to provide them with a safe space and listen to them.
It never hurts to speak with the doctor, as a health care professional will be able to offer suggestions and organize an appointment. During the appointment, your doctor will be able to test for any physical triggers and recommend the best course of action. Sometimes simple changes to your child’s lifestyle will make a massive difference to their mood. Therapies like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) are often used to help kids understand their feelings while also providing them with strategies to manage negative thoughts when they arise. In some cases, kids may be prescribed medicine to help manage chemical imbalances.