It is estimated that 2.5% of children in the United States suffer from depression. Depression among children can be hard to spot, but there can be certain signs and symptoms that can help you differentiate among depression and changes regular changes in behavior. Children and adolescents can experience an array of emotions over the course of a day, which can make it difficult to associate various emotions with depression or a child just having a bad day. Experiences that affect a child’s mood can include getting made fun of from other children, getting bullied on the playground, and struggling with schoolwork.
What is Depression?
Depression is classified as a prolonged sadness in which a child or adult can have feelings of intense sadness, and/or feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless. Throughout childhood, there are hundreds of instances that can cause a child to feel sad and down, such as getting a bad grade on a test or losing a sports game. This is a normal reaction in both children and adults. Children have feelings of sadness and it is normal to feel sad or down after a hard day at school, so understanding whether a child is depressed or temporarily sad can be challenging. Generally speaking, a two-week period or longer of severe sadness or having a difficult time finding enjoyment in things that once brought them joy and happiness is an indication that a child may be depressed.
Children at Risk of Depression
Children who have a family history of depression are more likely to experience depression than children without a family history of depression. Children with parents that have substance abuse issues such as overuse of alcohol or the use of drugs are more likely to experience a depressive episode during their childhood. In addition, children with chaotic families are more likely to experience a major depressive episode.
Who does Depression Affect?
Depression can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities.
Numbers collected over a 12-month period in which an individual had a major depressive episode. Test Sample – Ages 12-17
Male – 5.3%
Female – 16.2% (Women are 70% more likely to have a major depressive episode than men during their lifetime.)
12 – 4.4%
14 – 11%
16 – 13.1%
17 – 13.2%
Ethnicity and Depression among Adolescents
White – 10.9%
African American – 8.6%
Hispanic – 11.4%
Asian – 10.2%
Native American or Alaska Native – 4.5%
Depression in Children and Teens
During early childhood and teenage years, there are a number of changes that teen’s experience, which can affect their mood on a daily basis. These changes can include; social pressures, puberty, and trying to find out who they are and where they fit into society. When looking for signs of depression in children and teens, it is important to know they also have a unique set of signs and symptoms. While prolonged sadness is common among adults who are depressed, teens are more likely to show anger, aggressiveness, and hostility. Children and teens that are depressed sometimes deal with these pressures by running away, starting to use drugs and alcohol, participating in reckless behavior, and sometimes violence.
What Causes Depression in Children?
Typically, depression is a combination of environmental, genetic, biological, and psychological factors.
Depressive episodes in children and adolescents can be caused by situational occurrences such as a loss of a loved one, divorce of parents, social pressures, and other instances that can affect a child’s overall well being.
While depression is often times genetic, it can also happen to those who have no family history of depression. As noted above, the causes of depression can vary by gender and age.
Common Depression Symptoms
- Extended periods of sadness (over 2 weeks)
- Social Withdrawal
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Concentration difficulties
- Cannot find happiness in things that once brought one joy
- Loss of appetite or over eating
- Excessive crying or vocal outburst
- Thoughts or attempts of suicide
- Restlessness or irritability
- Pessimistic thoughts or feelings of hopelessness
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
How to Treat Depression
After being diagnosed with depression, a combination of psychological sessions / treatments and medication is a common when treating people for depression. Unlike other illnesses that can be treated with a single surgery or prescribed medication, changes in a child’s life choices, environment, and therapy are instrumental in treatment and recovery.
At Strategic Behavioral Center – Raleigh, patients are first evaluated and if depression is diagnosed, we then with work with the patient and involved parties to come up with a personalized treatment plan for recovery.
Call us today at (855) 537-2262 for more information!