Depression In Children: General Symptoms & Causes!
It may be difficult to believe that a child can suffer of depression in his full of optimism and worry-free world. However, according to statistics, the number of children suffering of this illness is raising.
Nothing can be more painful for a parent than seeing his child macerated by negative thoughts of depression, to ask himself on a daily basis if these thoughts may become real at some point and not be able to help him in any way. In fact, parents who have children who ask themselves these questions are among the lucky ones. In some countries, depression is still rarely considered a “serious illness” that require treatment, and most of the time it gets ignored, waiting for the symptoms to go away on their own or think that it`s just a phase through which the child goes.
However, depression seems to disagree with parents, and once it grabs the child`s psyche, it never lets it go, even when the symptoms seem to disappear. Sometimes they can hide for years, only to start appearing at the first tough moment, and what is worse is that these signs become stronger and stronger. Other times, ignorance and lack of treatment bring in other mental disorders that are even more serious, like maniac – depression or multiple personality disorders. Thus, it`s essential for parents to try and identify and then treat any symptoms of depression that they may notice in their children, even if it means a sacrifice from a time or material perspective.
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The Child`s Age and Forms of Manifestations
This illness can occur when the child is only an infant, a fact also known as emotional deprivation syndrome, an illness that is manifested by growth disorder, lethargy, irritability or weight loss. The aspect of the infant may mimic a serious organic disease, which is actually caused by the deprivation of affection of parents, especially the mother, who may be absent for a period of time, which by the child is perceived as being a very long period
In the 2 – 4 year old child, where language isn`t well developed and, therefore, incomplete as an effective means of communication, depression is manifested by aggression, protester and hyperkinetic behavior.
In the 5 – 8 year old child, the most common depression form is somatization, which is a plethora of multiple, psychogenic physical accusations, with the predominance of abdominal pain, which actually masks especially a feeling of insecurity and an intense need for protective affectivity.
Depression in the 9 – 12 year old child manifests predominantly by isolation, apathy, reduced communication, lack of interest in activities that other times were pleasant or diminishing school performances. – Check here!
The adolescent present an adult-like symptomatology, like fatigue, somatic disorders, sad mood, irritability or tension, along with negativity manifested by self-criticism, self-esteem or self-reproach, unpleasant memories or negative interpretations of experiences.
General Symptoms of Depression
Depression in children isn`t very different than the one manifested in adults. However, what is different is the way they express it, but also how it feels, given that at their age, their emotions are greatly amplified, and they still don`t have a complete set of psychic utensils to manage the situation. For a better understanding, a small exercise is required: remember the most overwhelming negative feeling that you have felt and multiply it by 4. Imagine that you feel this on a daily basis, every hour of the day and that there`s no one that can understand you or help you in any way. That`s how children feel when they are depressed.
Children manifest depression in the following ways:
- An oscillating mood state, between mania and sadness, apathy or irritability.
- Rage attacks.
- The loss of sociability.
- Disobedience to parents.
- Insomnia and other disorders related to sleep.
- Decreased appetite or a sudden increase of appetite.
- Lower school performance.
Causes of Depression in Children
There are a lot of social and psychological causes that can lead to depression in children. However, the most important factor is the emergence of an imbalance among neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in our brains. Thus, here`s that among the psychological aspect, depression is first of all a physical illness. And like any other mental disease, its prevention and treatment initially consists of physical treatment.
Read more on How Do I Know if I Have Postpartum Depression?
The reason for which there`s an imbalance producing in these substances is hard to specify. However, there are recent studies that show the main factor could be related to stress. For some children, it`s easy to determine the stressor that caused the depression. A shock, lack of parental affection, the separation of parents or the death of a loved one – all these can consist real events which may cause this type of imbalance in the case of a child. However, for other children it`s very difficult to determine the exact cause.
- Genetic predisposition: when psychological disorders took place in the family, there`s a great chance that for child to develop a form of them. Statistics show that more than 80% of children with depression have had other cases of depression in their families.
- The age of the child: children and old people are more likely to develop depression than adults with ages between 18 and 50 years.
- Biological aspect: As already mentioned, depression is first of all a physical disorder in which certain parts of the brain don`t function as it should, producing an imbalance of substances, like serotonin.
- Gender: Statistics highlight that there`s a double number of cases of depression in women than in men. This aspect may be because med tend to ask for help when they feel sad, but also from the point of view of women`s emotions.
- Trauma: Depression often occurs following the death of a loved one or trauma, like rape, an emotionally significant event or parental divorce.
- Stress: Stress is the most important cause of depression in children, which in most cases is described as being predominant before the first signs even occur.
- Health: Different conditions which cause loneliness, stress or other negative emotions can cause depression as well. For instance, depression is often seen in patients suffering from chronic disease or physical conditions that don`t allow them to develop a normal life.
- Medications or alcohol: Consuming alcohol or using some medications may trigger and even amplify depression in children. There are various drugs which may cause signs of depression as side effects.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Child Suffers of Depression?
If your child experiences any of the signs outlined above, please get in touch with a specialist as soon as you can to assess the medical condition of the child and the environment in which he/she grows (family doctor, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, school counselor or psychotherapist). Following the review of an expert a therapeutic intervention plan can be determined to support the child to diminish the pain associated with this medical condition and those around him to understand and make sense of the reality that they cross with the child.