Depression in Children
Childhood depression is different from the normal "blues" and everyday emotions that occur as a child develops. Just because a child seems depressed or sad, does not necessarily mean they have depression. But if these symptoms become persistent, disruptive and interfere with social activities, interests, schoolwork and family life, it may indicate that he or she is suffering from the medical condition depression.
How Can I Tell if My Child Is Depressed?
The symptoms of depression in children vary. Early medical studies focused on "masked" depression, where a child's depressed mood was evidenced by acting out or angry behavior. While this does occur, particularly in younger children, many children display sadness or low mood similar to adults who are depressed. The primary symptoms of depression revolve around sadness, a feeling of hopelessness, and mood changes and may include:
Not all children have all of these symptoms. In fact, most will display different symptoms at different times and in different settings. Although some children may continue to function reasonably well, most kids with significant depression will suffer a noticeable change in social activities, loss of interest in school and poor academic performance, or a change in appearance. Children may also begin using drugs or alcohol, especially if they are over the age of 12.
Although relatively rare in youths under 12, young children do attempt
Suicide is a serious problem within the teenage population. Adolescent suicide is a leading cause of death among youth and young adults in the U.S. It is estimated that 500,000 teens attempt suicide every year with 5,000 succeeding. These are epidemic proportions.
Suicide Warning Signs
Parents should be particularly vigilant for signs that may indicate that their child is at risk for suicide. Warning signs of suicidal behavior in children include: