It is estimated that 2.5% of children in the United States suffer from depression. Depression among children can be hard to spot. Often time’s children and adolescents experience an array of emotions over the course of 24 hours which can make it difficult to associate these emotions with depression or just having a bad day. Experiences that affect a child’s mood can include getting bullied on the playground, struggling with coursework, and getting made fun of from other children. While your children’s emotions are important to pay attention to, it is important to know that all children experience high’s and low’s just like adults do.
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. Many 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 difficult. 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 someone 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 problems such as overuse of alcohol or the use of drugs are more likely to experience depression 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. Samples – Age 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 Teens
During the teenage years, there are a number of changes that teens must cope with and adapt to. 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 teens, it’s important to know they also have a unique set of signs and symptoms. While prolonged sadness is common among most people who are depressed, teens are more likely to show anger, aggressiveness, and hostility. Teens who 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?
Depression is generally 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)
- Cannot find happiness in things that once brought one joy, including sex
- 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
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Social Withdrawal
- Concentration difficulties
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 life choices and therapy are both instrumental in treatment and recovery.
At Strategic Behavioral Health – Wilmington, 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.
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