Depression in Children
Depression disorder is something that can affect anyone from any background. It does not discriminate when it comes to age or gender. While a light has been shined on depression more in the last few years, it wasn’t always openly discussed. Depression could come with the stigma of someone being crazy, or sometimes people think that asking you to just “stop being sad” will make it go away. Depression varies from person to person, and it especially presents itself differently in children. About two million children and teens battle depression in the United States.
With the onset of the pandemic, depression rates among children and teens have increased. The fear of isolation, not seeing family and becoming sick have been some elements that have affected mental health in children the last few years. Unfortunately, children can either be overlooked when they are trying to express their sadness, or they could pretend to be okay and not express anything at all. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression in your child is the first step to getting them the help that they need.
Signs for depression vary among children and their reactions to their depression will also be different. Symptoms in young children, teens and even infants are all very different. Recognizing these symptoms and differences can be difficult for most but, there are resources available to help guide you through your search. These are just a few symptoms and warning signs of depression.
Pediatric depression (Infants)
- Joyless and unresponsive facial expressions
- Listless body posture
- Slower physical mannerisms
- Irritable and fussy
- Difficulty eating and sleeping
Toddlers and Preschoolers
- Frequent headaches or stomachaches
- Difficulty going to sleep, staying asleep, and excessive sleeping
- Changes in appetite, mainly not eating enough
- Lack of interest in social interactions
Ages 5 – 12
- Constant state of worry
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of interest in things that usually make them happy
- In a constant state of sadness, anger and other negative emotions
- Feeling hopeless
- Low self-esteem
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Suicide plan or a suicide attempt
If you feel that your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, please reach out to their doctor and a mental health care provider. Making sure that these symptoms are related to depression and not a medical issue is important to your child’s treatment. The lists provided above are not the only symptoms that your child could experience while managing depression, but they are a starting point to guide you in the right direction for treatment and diagnosis.