Depression is a deadly condition that if left unattended can escalate to self harm and even suicide. Depression in children is very similar to depression in adults with a few exceptions. These exceptions are that children are not as articulate as adults in expressing emotions, so it is unlikely that they will come to you and say "I'm depressed". In fact they may not even realize that something is out of the ordinary.
It is for this reason that you, as a parent, should apply parenting tips to become aware of the symptoms and are able to identify signs to look for. Effective parent child relationship is helpful so that parents and children will be more open to each other, thus helping each other when the other has problems.
Depression doesn't discriminate between young, old, gender, rich, poor, functional and dysfunctional families. It is estimated that 1 out of 10 children have difficulty escaping the symptoms of depression for long periods of time.
Fortunately there are clear warning signs of depression in children and adolescents that you should be aware of.
Some of these are:
*Sudden changes in behaviour
*Regular aggression, agitation and anger outbursts.
*Lower self esteem
*Withdraws from friends and activities and family
*Gives up valued possession loses interest in activities they once enjoyed.
Then there are emotional signs some children display are:
*Sadness the child my get upset and cry over the slightest thing. Some children may hide their tears and become withdrawn.
*Anxiety The child may become anxious, tense and panics over the slightest thing.
*Loss of Interest Withdraws from activities they once enjoyed.
*Turmoil/upset The child may become worried and irritable. They may lash out of anger or distress.
Some of the Physical Signs displayed:
*Weight loss or gain change in appetite and weight is another symptom of the depressed child. Some children lose their appetite while others take comfort in food.
*Sleep Pattern Change a child suffering from depression may have trouble sleeping or staying asleep however some children may over sleep.
*Children in depression usually become sluggish, often the child will talk, react and walk slower.
Behaviour changes demonstrated may be:
*Avoidance and withdrawal from everyday activities they once enjoyed. They may withdraw from friends. You may find that the child prefers their bedroom where they go to escape and find solitude.
*Exaggerated sense of insecurity is another trait of children with depression.
Cognitive Signs of Depression:
*Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt every day.
*Recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
*Negative view. Children in depression may become pessimistic, perceiving themselves, their life and their world in a very negative light.
*Another symptom of children with depression is that they may suffer severe headaches at least once per month.
Preschool or young primary school aged children may appear serious or vaguely sick. They may show states of tearfulness, irritability and frustration spontaneously. He/she may say negative things about themselves and in more serious cases they may be self destructive.
High School through Adolescence - these children may present with disruptive behaviour problems with friends and a dislike for school and study. Sometimes the child may express hate for themselves and everyone and everything else and if extreme may self mutilate.
If you suspect that your child is in any form of depression it is important that you discuss your concerns with your doctor and have the child evaluated. Left undetected depression is a very serious condition that could escalate to bipolar disorder.