Childhood depression is on the rise in America and other developed countries. It is estimated that as many as one in thirty children will experience depression at some point, and all indications are that this number is rising. The reasons for this rise in childhood depression are not fully understood, but if you believe that your child is suffering from a depressive disorder then help is available.
Spotting The Symptoms of Childhood Depression
The earlier depression is diagnosed, the more easily it can be treated. If a family member has died or your child has fallen out with their best friend, then it can be perfectly natural for them to seem very down for a while. But if the sadness carries on for several weeks and they are displaying any of additional symptoms below, then it could be worth consulting your family doctor.
Signs of childhood depression include:
* A sustained low mood
* Crying with no or little cause
* Over or under eating
* Sleeping a lot or insomnia
* Irritability or aggression
* Avoiding previously enjoyed activities
* Social withdrawal
* School work suffering
* Recurrent headaches or stomach pains
* Talks of death
* Suicidal thoughts
Symptoms of depression can vary from child to child, but social withdrawal and suffering school work are common to virtually all affected children. Parents who suspect that their teen is depressed should also be vigilant for alcohol or drug abuse. Depression raises the risk of children indulging in risky behaviors by more than half.
Understanding The Causes Of Childhood Depression
It is important to emphasize that any child can develop depression, and it is not a sign of parental failure. But there are home life factors that can raise the risk of a child developing mental health problems. For example, child abuse, domestic abuse between parents or an alcoholic parent can all raise the risk of childhood depression.
There is also a strong genetic component to the illness. Numerous studies have shown that children from families with a history of mental illness are much more susceptible to depression themselves. In younger children, depression is far more common among boys.During the teenage years, it is girls who are more prone to mood disorders.
Treating Childhood Depression
Doctors will normally avoid prescribing antidepressants to children as an initial course of action, unless there is considered to be a high risk of suicide. Bi-polar disorder will also require mood stabilizing drugs. But counselling is a far more common solution for childhood depression, especially if the depression has a trigger based in life events.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has also been shown to be effective in treating childhood depression. When a person has depression, their thought patterns become faulty. The brain can be re-trained to address this and develop healthier thought patterns again.
If counseling or CBT fails, then a prescription for medication may be given. Prozac is licensed for use in children between the ages of 8 and 18 years of age.
Childhood depression is treatable. Healthcare professionals can give families advice on helping a depressed child.