There are many common misconceptions about severe depression (also called major depression or clinical depression). According to one such myth, kids don’t get depression. On the contrary, depression in children is a serious problem. Anyone in contact with kids should learn about common child depression symptoms, as well as child depression treatment options that are available.
Although depression can happen at any age, doctors and therapists take signs of depression in children seriously. This is because child depression symptoms have been shown to correlate with severe depression in adulthood. The sooner help is sought for depression in children, the greater the chance of successful child depression treatment.
Child Depression Statistics
According to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), approximately one out of 33 children is depressed. By adolescence, this number increases: approximately one in eight adolescents requires child depression treatment.
Caregivers should be aware of the signs of depression in kids, as they may be dangerous. Suicide, which can be related to child depression, is the sixth leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 14, as reported by the NMHA.
Before the age of 15, boys and girls are equally likely to suffer from depression. However, studies have shown that depression in children is twice as common in girls as in boys during the adolescent phase.
Roughly 70 percent of cases of depression in children aren’t treated. This may be because of the general unawareness of child depression symptoms.
Signs of Depression in Children
Child depression symptoms differ from signs of depression in adults. Some of these signs of depression to watch out for include:
- Clinging to a parent
- Excessive worrying that a parent will die
- Getting into trouble at school
- Pretending to be sick
- Refusing to go to school
- The feeling of being misunderstood.
All children will show some of these signs as they go through the normal stages of development. However, if these childhood depression symptoms persist more than two months at a time and appear in groups, the caregiver may want to get a professional diagnosis and begin depression treatment.
What Causes Depression in Children?
A child is more likely to develop depression if he is:
- Experiencing home or familiar instability
- Genetically related to an adult with depression
- Under stress
- Using drugs or alcohol.
Note that family history isn’t necessarily a definitive cause of depression in children. It simply predisposes a child to the condition.
Child Depression Treatment
The good news about depression in children is that child depression symptoms are treatable. Studies suggest medications alone are not as successful in child patients as a combination of medication and another treatment method, such as psychotherapy.
If you believe that your son or daughter is exhibiting signs of depression, your family physician can provide a diagnosis and determine the best course of action.
ChildhoodDepression.us Staff. (2008). Child depression statistics. Retrieved May 9, 2010, from the ChildhoodDepression.us website: www.childhooddepression.us/articles6.html.
National Institute of Mental Health Staff. (2009). How do children and adolescents experience depression? Retrieved May 9, 2010, from the National Institute of Mental Health website: www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/complete-index.shtml#pub12.