Recognizing the Signs of Childhood Depression

BY: Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee (MBBS; MD; MIPS; MIAPP)

Phobias

Recognising the Signs of Childhood Depression

Parents should be aware of the indicators of depression in children, such as depressive symptoms, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and severe depression, as these can be indicative of a serious mental health disorder. Depression is a real and pressing issue that can have long-term consequences on a child’s physical, behavioural, and emotional development if left untreated. As such, parents should be informed of the strategies for recognising childhood depression and how to help their children get the necessary treatment.

Definition of Childhood Depression

Childhood depression is a form of major depressive disorder (MDD) that begins in childhood or adolescence. Some depressive symptoms include persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, and feelings of worthlessness. Children with this disorder also may experience changes in appetite, sleep patterns, energy levels, concentration, and behaviour, as well as an increased risk of developing other mental disorders. Physical activity can be beneficial for managing the symptoms of depression in children, as it can help to improve mood, boost self-esteem, and reduce the risk of depression.

Identifying Signs of Depression in Children

The signs of childhood depression vary depending on the age and developmental stage of the child. Common physical symptoms include changes in eating habits (overeating or not eating enough), sleep disturbances (sleeping too much or too little), low energy levels, and fatigue. Behavioural symptoms include withdrawal from social activities and social isolation, loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable, irritability or unusual outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, poor school performance, and disobedience or defiance toward authority figures. Emotional symptoms include mood disorders, feelings of hopelessness and sadness, major depression, low self-esteem, feeling worthless, an inability to feel pleasure from previously enjoyable activities, feelings of guilt or shame, thoughts about death or suicide, psychiatric disorders, and/or frequent crying spells. Furthermore, childhood depression can be compounded by medical conditions or mental health conditions.

Strategies for Recognizing Childhood Depression

Parents need to pay attention to changes in their child’s behaviour as these can be signs that they may be suffering from depression. Parents should monitor their child’s mood by asking questions about how they are feeling both verbally and nonverbally through body language cues such as facial expressions or posture. They should also watch for physical depressive symptoms such as changes in eating habits or sleeping patterns, which can be signs of depression. It is important to talk openly with your child about their feelings without judgment and seek help from a healthcare provider if necessary. If your child is suffering from depression, it’s important to provide them with appropriate mental health services, such as family therapy or other evidence-based treatments from current studies.

Treatment of Childhood Depression

If your child has been diagnosed with childhood depression there are several treatment options available including talk therapy (e.g., cognitive behavioural therapy), medication (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), supportive care (e..g., family counselling), lifestyle modifications (e.g., daily activities, exercise), nutrition therapy (e.g., dietary changes), alternative therapies such as yoga or meditation, and support groups specifically designed for youth with mental health issues. It is important to work with a mental health professional who specialises in working with children when determining the most effective treatment for depression and the best course of action for your particular situation.

Recognising the warning signs of childhood depression early on can help you get your child the treatment they need before their condition worsens over time. Allowing it to fester may lead to social isolation later on in life. Pay attention to changes in your child’s behaviour such as withdrawal from social activities or increased irritability; monitor their mood by asking them directly how they are feeling; watch for physical symptoms such as changes in sleeping patterns, and talk openly without judgement so your child feels comfortable enough to open up about any mental health concerns they may be having. With proper diagnosis and treatment of depression from qualified professionals, children can lead healthy lives despite living with this disorder. You can start by talking to your child’s doctor or a mental health professional such as Mental Health Research Centre in Kolkata. Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee heads the clinic and is an expert on mental disorders. Call 098313 13020 to find out more about children with depression and the available treatments.