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Identifying Life’s Challenges: What Are the Symptoms of Childhood Depression?

//Identifying Life’s Challenges: What Are the Symptoms of Childhood Depression?

Identifying Life’s Challenges: What Are the Symptoms of Childhood Depression?

“Childhood” and “depression” are two words that unfortunately have become an increasingly used phrase — even as much as we wish never had to be used together.

While we know that adult depression and anxiety levels have been rising, it’s essential to acknowledge that children are the same. This reality has received more attention in light of school closures and distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But even before the pandemic, childhood depression was growing.

Given all the challenges that kids face, vital to be aware of what childhood depression looks like.

Symptoms of Childhood Depression

Children with depression will show some of the same symptoms as depressed adults. But because they are still developing emotionally, physically, and socially, some symptoms will be different.

Persistent Sadness

Some childhood sadness is natural. Saying goodbye to a pet or friend, losing a big game, and similar experiences are expected to cause tears. But when a child is consistently sad, this can be a red flag.

Loss of Interest

Just as with adults who are depressed, children with depression may lose interest in favorite activities and hobbies.

Social Withdrawal

Withdrawing from friends and social activities can be another sign that your child is struggling with depression.

Discouragement and Hopelessness

It’s not uncommon for children to experience discouragement as they encounter new educational or athletic challenges. But when their dismay becomes overwhelming and turns into hopelessness, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

Anger and Irritation

Children who are depressed often have no idea why they’re feeling sadder. And depression often manifests itself as increased irritability and anger. It can even cause a mild individual to act out in aggressive ways. If you notice this in your child, depression may be a factor.

Talking About Death

Depression across all ages is associated with increased comments and thoughts about death and dying. Even kids may give treasured items away as they contemplate suicide or self-harm. They may wish they were dead or think they’d be better off dead. This sign is a red flag, signaling you need to reach out to a therapist.

Sleep Changes

Depression is as much a physiological phenomenon as it is emotional. Because of this, it can cause changes in your child’s sleep patterns. Children will frequently sleep more when depressed, but some children may sleep less and experience insomnia. Be familiar with your child’s habits and notice when they change.

Appetite Changes

Again, pay attention to your child’s regular eating patterns. Have they lost their appetite, even for favorite foods? Or are they eating more than they used to, and it’s not a typical growth-spurt pattern? These can be a sign of depression.

School Struggles

Depression can also affect a child’s ability to focus and concentrate in school. If you’ve noticed these types of changes, pay attention to them.

Why Treatment Is Essential

No parent likes to think about their child being depressed. We hope it’s just a phase or that they’ll grow out of it. The pandemic, unfortunately, means that many children are missing out on very important social time. They need to be around other children and adults just as much as they need their book learning. The isolation, lack of routine, and loneliness are breeding grounds for childhood depression.

And without treatment, childhood depression can pave the way for depression in adulthood. It also increases a child’s risk for substance abuse. By taking the time to seek an evaluation for your child’s symptoms, you’ll be able to find help and set them up for tremendous success in the years ahead.

“Childhood” and “depression” are two words that unfortunately have become an increasingly used phrase — even as much as we wish never had to be used together.

While we know that adult depression and anxiety levels have been rising, it’s essential to acknowledge that children are the same. This reality has received more attention in light of school closures and distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But even before the pandemic, childhood depression was growing.

Given all the challenges that kids face, vital to be aware of what childhood depression looks like.

Symptoms of Childhood Depression

Children with depression will show some of the same symptoms as depressed adults. But because they are still developing emotionally, physically, and socially, some symptoms will be different.

Persistent Sadness

Some childhood sadness is natural. Saying goodbye to a pet or friend, losing a big game, and similar experiences are expected to cause tears. But when a child is consistently sad, this can be a red flag.

Loss of Interest

Just as with adults who are depressed, children with depression may lose interest in favorite activities and hobbies.

Social Withdrawal

Withdrawing from friends and social activities can be another sign that your child is struggling with depression.

Discouragement and Hopelessness

It’s not uncommon for children to experience discouragement as they encounter new educational or athletic challenges. But when their dismay becomes overwhelming and turns into hopelessness, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

Anger and Irritation

Children who are depressed often have no idea why they’re feeling sadder. And depression often manifests itself as increased irritability and anger. It can even cause a mild individual to act out in aggressive ways. If you notice this in your child, depression may be a factor.

Talking About Death

Depression across all ages is associated with increased comments and thoughts about death and dying. Even kids may give treasured items away as they contemplate suicide or self-harm. They may wish they were dead or think they’d be better off dead. This sign is a red flag, signaling you need to reach out to a therapist.

Sleep Changes

Depression is as much a physiological phenomenon as it is emotional. Because of this, it can cause changes in your child’s sleep patterns. Children will frequently sleep more when depressed, but some children may sleep less and experience insomnia. Be familiar with your child’s habits and notice when they change.

Appetite Changes

Again, pay attention to your child’s regular eating patterns. Have they lost their appetite, even for favorite foods? Or are they eating more than they used to, and it’s not a typical growth-spurt pattern? These can be a sign of depression.

School Struggles

Depression can also affect a child’s ability to focus and concentrate in school. If you’ve noticed these types of changes, pay attention to them.

Why Treatment Is Essential

No parent likes to think about their child being depressed. We hope it’s just a phase or that they’ll grow out of it. The pandemic, unfortunately, means that many children are missing out on very important social time. They need to be around other children and adults just as much as they need their book learning. The isolation, lack of routine, and loneliness are breeding grounds for childhood depression.

And without treatment, childhood depression can pave the way for depression in adulthood. It also increases a child’s risk for substance abuse. By taking the time to seek an evaluation for your child’s symptoms, you’ll be able to find help and set them up for tremendous success in the years ahead.

Please read our specialty page about depression and anxiety to learn more. Afterward, please call our offices if you recognize your child has any of the listed symptoms or could use some emotional support.

2021-03-07T14:45:48+00:00

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