Written By Raquel Nixon, Contributing Writer
Depression in children can often go unrecognized. Unfortunately, when depression goes unnoticed, it leaves little opportunity for them to get the treatment and support they need. Younger children probably will not recognize symptoms of depression in themselves.
However, just because they do not recognize it, doesn’t mean it that it isn’t there. In fact, childhood depression is quite common, affecting “2 percent of prepubertal children and five to eight percent of adolescents” (1). Here are some things to keep in mind and consider if you think your child could be at risk for depression:
- Family History – Although family history is not a definite cause of depression, it is a risk factor. Children with parents or immediate family members who struggle with depression or other mental issues should be watched carefully for symptoms. The earlier an issue can be recognized, the sooner the opportunity for treatment and management.
- Poor School Performance – Seeing your child’s grades drop or seeing an overall decline in their performance could be a sign that something is wrong, even if it isn’t depression.
- Change in Behavior – Changes in appetite, sleeping patterns, or mood swings could be another symptom to watch out for. If you have seen fluctuations in your child’s weight (either weight gain or weight loss), or if they are over-sleeping or under-sleeping, it might be beneficial to set up an appointment with their doctor.
There are many reasons and causes for depression. If you feel your child could be struggling, or if you have seen some of these symptoms in them, reach out for help. Recognizing depression early is a great way to start treatment early as well.
For more detailed information on recognizing childhood depression here is a helpful resource from the American Academy of Family Physicians.
What to do if you think your child is depressed. (2000, November 15). Retrieved March 01, 2021, from https://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/1115/p2311.html
Son, S., & Kirchner, J. (2000, November 15). Depression in children and adolescents. Retrieved March 01, 2021, from https://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/1115/p2297.html