“How can children get depressed? They are so young and what do they have to be depressed about? We were just happy when we were that age”.
Depression is a serious mental health issue which can affect not only adults, but children and adolescents too.
However, many fail to realize how serious it is as it is not just the normal ‘blues’ and everyday emotions that occur as a child develops.
The prime symptoms of depression revolves around sadness and mood changes, therefore it often leads to the children being undiagnosed and untreated due to the fact that they are passed of as normal emotional and physical changes.
According to the data from Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 3.2% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 1.9 million) have been diagnosed with depression worldwide.
Signs and symptoms of depression in children include:
1. Irritability or anger
2. Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
3. Social withdrawal
4. Increased sensitivity to rejection or criticism
5. Changes in appetite (either increased or decreased)
6. Changes in sleep (sleeplessness or excessive sleep)
7. Vocal outbursts or crying
8. Difficulty concentrating
9. Fatigue and low energy
10. Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that do not respond to treatment
11. Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests
12. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
13. Impaired thinking or concentration
14. Thoughts of death or suicide
Although most symptoms of a disorder may differ depending on the children and they continue to function reasonably well in structured environments, they will suffer a noticeable change in social activities, loss of interest in school and poor academic performance, or even a change in appearance.
As serious as it is, depression on the bright side is also treatable.
A proper and timely treatment can be very helpful not only in resolving depressive symptoms, but also reducing the risk of relapse.
Therefore, early diagnosis and appropriate services for children and their families can make a difference in the lives of children with mental disorders.