The emotional development of any child brings with it a plethora of unavoidable ups and downs. But, occasionally, circumstances will cause a child to be unhappier than might seem typical, and this can be a result of depression. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), up to 2-3% of children ages 6 to 12 may suffer from serious cases of depression, and approximately 60% of kids with depression aren’t receiving any form of treatment. If you’ve noticed that your child is prone to persistent bouts of sadness, depression may be the cause, and a visit to your doctor for a reliable diagnosis should be scheduled as soon as possible.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a mental health disorder that is usually marked by prolonged feelings of hopelessness or sadness. The precise manifestation of depressive disorder is different in each and every case, presenting with various symptoms across a broad spectrum of severity. It is absolutely vital to seek care in all instances of child depression, because if left untreated, it can lead to thoughts of suicide, and in a small number of cases, to the action itself.
What To Look For: Signs And Symptoms
If you’re able to identify a clear sense of sadness or hopelessness that is present in your child’s demeanor for an extended amount of time, your child may be suffering from depression. This is not the only sign of the disorder, though, and such feelings may be internalized, making it all the more important to be on the lookout for other characteristics or changes that may indicate a depressive bout, including:
- Irritability and restlessness
- A lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed or were generally considered to be fun
- Difficulty paying attention and behavioral problems at school
The heavy emotional burden that comes with such a disorder could have adverse effects on your child’s physical well-being, as well. Changes in sleeping patterns – significantly more or less sleep than usual – should be taken into account, along with similar changes in your child’s diet. Be sure to pay attention to your child’s energy levels, too – both relentless exhaustion and constant excitability have been noted in children diagnosed with depression.
Childhood depression can also trigger self-destructive behavior. While sometimes written off as “acting out,” it’s behavior that unquestionably warrants discussion with a trusted healthcare professional.
Taking Action: Treating Childhood Depression
While depression may take a heavy toll on those who it afflicts, including the family members of a depressed child, it can be overcome when the correct steps are taken. Be sure to contact your doctor for a diagnosis and evaluation in order to come up with an appropriate treatment plan.
One of the most widely used forms of treatment for the disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Usually a short-term process that only lasts a few months, CBT teaches patients methods in which they can harness their negative thoughts and convert them into positive ideas. Though the finer points of treatment will vary from person to person, CBT is known to be one of the most effective ways to combat depression in older children.
In addition to talk therapy, your healthcare professional may recommend medication. The ADAA notes that, according to major market research, pairing therapy with medication tends to be more effective in children ages 7-17 than either individual solution
Seek Assistance At Touchpoint Pediatrics
Depression can be both difficult to cope with and intimidating to discuss, but at Touchpoint Pediatrics, we provide warm, empathetic care and will work with you and your child to move past this stressful period. Feel free to contact us today with any questions, or visit our Chatham, NJ location for more information.