Most parents do not realize this, but children can get depression. Studies have shown that 1 out of 33 young children and 1 out of 8 teens have serious depression. In some cases, children do not get help unless a parent actually notices something is wrong.
Symptoms of childhood depression are: grumpy, sad, always bored, child no longer enjoys things that he/she used to, lose or gain weight, sleep too much or too little, feel hopeless, worthless, or guilty, trouble concentrating, thinking, or making decisions, thinks about death or suicide.
Depression usually occurs when something significant or traumatic happens. Things like a death of a loved one, separation of the family, moving to a new city or state, severe changes at home, any type of abuse/neglect, or a family history of depression.
Diagnosing depression: a doctor may do a physical exam to rule out any medical conditions that can have the same symptoms. A doctor may ask the child questions about how the child feels, acts, or thinks. Parents may have to fill out a depression questionnaire so the doctor can see how extreme the symptoms are. In addition, if a child has any other disorders like ADHD, anxiety, or eating disorders the child may have depression also.
Treatment begins with educating both the parent and child. Seeing a therapist or counselor to begin therapy may be necessary, antidepressants, getting regular exercise, eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, keeping the communications lines open between child and parents, reassuring the child that things will get better is also something that can be very beneficial. Talk to the doctor before discontinuing any medicine for treatment of depression. Treatment usually starts working within 1 to 3 weeks.
Common warning signs to look for on antidepressants are: drawing, thinking, talking, or writing about death or dying, giving personal items away, withdrawing from family and friends, owning , carrying, or playing with any type of weapon, hiding pills that could cause an overdose.
A family physician, hospital, or mental health facility can answer questions about depression. Some websites can be very helpful in answering questions: The Mayo Clinic is excellent for any type of research. Kids Health is a site full of information about depression or any other illness in children. WebMD is another good site for information, which has been highly rated.