Children can become temporarily sad and mildly depressed the same as healthy adults. Should your child continue to be sad or depressed beyond a reasonable amount of time, you as a parent may become justifiably concerned. Clinical depression is a mental illness that affects people of all ages, including children under the age of thirteen.
Signs of Depression in Children
There are signs that point to depression in children. Be aware that these symptoms are not exclusive of clinical depression in children; they are also symptoms that relate to other physical and mental illnesses.
- Sadness or grief that seems to be worsening over time
- Sadness or grief that won't go away
- Frequent crying
- Talk of wanting to die
- Loss of interest in school, or grades and class work suffering where it wasn't in the past
- Loss of interest in friends
- Loss of interest in activities that the child used to enjoy
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Low self-esteem
- Frequent expressions of guilt
- Decreased energy, increased fatigue
If your child is exhibiting these symptoms, or other changes that have you concerned, it's important to seek the help of a medical professional.
Importance of Getting Help for Your Child
Depression can lead to self-destructive behavior in children. It is a treatable disease, making it imperative that you have your child seen by a psychiatrist. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment will be able to begin.
The treatment for depression in children usually involves psychotherapy and may involve medication. With the help of a child psychologist, a depressed child can learn how to express and cope with their feelings. Family members may also be invited to therapy sessions. This helps everyone learn how to best deal with the child's illness. (For more information, contact Paula Conforti, D.C.S., C.Psych. Assoc.)
Medication for Children Who Suffer from Depression
Many parents don't like the idea of their child being on medication for depression. If you have concerns, you should talk them over with a child psychiatrist. Your child should never be on medications to treat depression without being under the care of a psychiatrist. Certain antidepressants are safe and effective, but only when monitored by a psychiatrist. The doctor will watch for side effects and make dosage adjustments as necessary.
Untreated depression has the potential to lead to serious self-destructive behaviors. The Canadian Mental Health Association states that only one out of every five Canadian children in need of mental health services receives the help they need. If you suspect your child is one of these sufferers, you shouldn't wait to get them the help they require.Share