Children are not immune from depression. Much like adults early diagnosis and treatment are critical. In all actuality it is often more critical to seek treatment for a depressed child because they are less equipped to deal with the situation. They often do not understand that it is going to get better.
Seeking treatment for your child is going to save them potentially years of anguish; in extreme cases it could even save the life of your child. This presents a specific hurdle to overcome though, as we all know a child’s emotional state is often that of a tropical sea. Ever changing and extremely volatile, many times very serious indications of depression are overlooked. This makes it difficult but ever so necessary to distinguish the difference between normal mood variances and depression.
Long term effects of depression in children
It is extremely important that we as parents learn to understand the warning signs that accompany depression in our children. Children that suffer from untreated depression often have issues later in life that can be attributed to the depression as a child.
- Their income as an adult is likely to be below average.
- They are less likely to graduate from college.
- They are far more likely to be unemployed as adults.
- Untreated depression as a child can lead to serious problems at work and in social and family interaction as an adult.
These are just the tangible results of untreated childhood depression, not to mention the vast array of emotional issues that can follow.
Understand the warning signs
As stated before it is important that parents become familiar with the warning signs that accompany their depression in their children. It is important to note that the symptoms in the following list may seem like normal childhood misbehavior, and in part they are. It is when these behaviors (symptoms) continue to appear regularly that it is perhaps time to speak with a professional.
- Irritability and anger
- Prolonged feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Social withdrawal
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection
- Change in appetite, whether increase or decrease
- Sleeplessness or excessive sleep
- Emotional outburst of anger or sadness
- Chronic low energy
- Reduced ability to function normally during social events, home activities, school events, in school and while around friends
- Chronic feelings of insignificance or extreme guilt
- Finally in extreme circumstances thought of death or suicide
Not all children are going to display all of these symptoms. Often they will only display one at a time and they will be in completely differing scenarios. It is important then to keep a close eye on behavior. Try to connect the dots so to speak. Understanding what situations spark what reactions and what reactions seem out of place compared to how your child would normally react.
Contributing factors to childhood depression
Equally important, we should take a look into the contributing factors behind childhood depression. This will help you be on the lookout in times when it is more likely that your child could become depressed. Much like adults there is a wide array of factors that can lead to depression. Everything from physical health to biochemical imbalances can play a part. Often times though with children it is far more likely that there depression is going to be sparked by emotional or physical trauma. Separation of their parents, the loss of a loved one, physical or emotional abuse, these are all situations where there is a much higher likelihood of depression in a child. Understanding this will help you to keep an eye out for the symptoms of depression if your child has gone through, or is going through one of these challenging situations.
Depression is an illness
The seriousness of childhood depression serves to underscore the importance of treatment. Depression is not a “mood”. It is a serious illness, and it is not going to go away on its own. It is extremely important that if you notice ongoing signs of depression from your child that you seek professional help. Treatment can often be as simple as therapy sessions. It is when the warning signs are ignored that the situation often escalates.