The Stockton Therapy Network
Specialists in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy
Depression is a serious medical condition that can affect the ability a child, pre-teen, or teenager has to find joy and fulfillment in their everyday life. While it is normal to see emotions such as fears, anxiety, sadness, anger, and normal mood fluctuations in children, these moods, if occurring for a prolonged period of time, can be a sign of an underlying depression.
Unlike adults, whose depressive symptoms often manifest through emotions of sadness and difficulties enjoying day to day activities once found pleasurable, oftentimes depression with children manifests in emotions of extreme anger, irritability (grumpiness), lack of focus, and loss of interest to engage in social activities once found enjoyable. If your child, pre-teen, or teen has shown these signs, he or she may have mild to moderate depression.
Symptoms and Statistics of Childhood Depression
Experts say that nearly 2 out of every 100 children and 8 out of every 100 teens suffer from depression. However, this number may be greater, due to misdiagnosed ADHD, whose symptoms very often mirror that of childhood depression. The symptoms to look out for are:
- Irritability, Sadness, Withdrawn, Easily Bored, or Easily Looses Focus.
- Does not take pleasure in activities they once found enjoyable.
- Weight Loss or Weight Gain.
- Lack of Sleep, or Too Much Need for Sleep.
- Loss of focus, Concentration, Ability to Think, or Make Decisions.
- Thoughts about or Focus on Death or Suicide.
Causes for Childhood Depression
The causes of depression are varied. Many times, your children have suffered from an unknown trauma. This trauma can be caused by age appropriate developmental sequences that accompany our journey towards adult life. Other times, trauma may be repressed, or suppressed, and your child may be pushing away unwanted memories, thoughts, and/or feelings away that they are simply to embarrassed to talk about. These feelings, memories, and thoughts can be of actual events that occurred during their life, which they are too afraid to speak about, or can be caused by psychological processes that can be as disturbing as actual memories that arise.. Remember, children are very much like adults. They tend to avoid areas of discomfort, and because of this, parents may feel helpless in their ability to deal with their children’s depression. If you find that your child is having more questions than answers, and you are unable to answer your child’s questions, you should consult professional help.