Depression in Children - An Overview of Childhood Depression

Depression in children was truly unheard of in the past, but today, more and more parents are realizing that their children are exhibiting behavior patterns that represent depression.

The truth is, it is really difficult to come to terms with a condition where little children are diagnosed with signs and symptoms of depression. All of us, including children, feel down and sad from time to time. However, if these symptoms affect day-to-day activities, including eating habits, sleep patterns, school activities and personal interests, the child could be suffering from depression. Although alarming and unbelievable, we must realize and have faith that depression in children can be completely treated and overcome.

Statistics indicate that nearly 2.5% of the children population in the United States experience depression. Boys below 10 years of age seem to be affected more by childhood depression as compared to girls. This figure, however, changes significantly once children have grown up, and girls tend to suffer more from depression once they reach their teens as compared to boys of the same age.

Most cases of untreated depression in childhood and adolescence develop into bipolar disorder in adulthood. Therefore, it is extremely important to diagnose and detect depression if a child shows behavior patterns that are in tandem with the signs and symptoms of depression.

Various factors could be contributing to causing depression in children. Some of them are directly related to nature, as in, hereditary or genetic predisposition to depression, and the other is nurture, which is the family environment in which children are raised. Children who are raised in conflicted families or that have cultivated substance abuse habits are at a greater risk of suffering from depression.

Diagnosing depression in children can be quite difficult, especially because they might not be able to express or communicate their feelings clearly to the therapist. Therefore, parents need to be more aware of their childrenÂ’s behavior patterns and share their observations with the concerned psychiatrist or therapist.

Assessment tests and questionnaires will have to be answered both by parents and children to help diagnose childhood depression. While there are no specific tools to diagnose depression, signs and symptoms that last for over two weeks confirm the diagnosis.

It is advisable to consult a pediatric psychologist or a child psychologist to help diagnose and treat the problem. They will evaluate the child, look for specific milestones, gather information from parents and teachers if required, and mark behavioral patterns and interpret results accurately. Parents should share all information, including family history of depression, with the concerned specialists so that they can diagnose and treat the problem appropriately.

While it is difficult for parents to come to terms with the fact that their child could be suffering from depression, it is important that they do not wait for it to go away, but seek help. Depression in children is a treatable condition and can be completely cured. With proper guidance and supervision, young ones who are afflicted by childhood depression will be able to recover fully.


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