Depression in children is a serious condition requires immediate attention. Get help NOW.
Depression is a real danger for infants and children. Young ones react to emotional upsets, too. All parents must keep their eyes open for signs of childhood depression, and parents suffering from depression must be even more vigilant.
Yes, infant and child depression is a real thing. Parents may notice that a child is sad or withdrawn, and infants or children may exhibit a wide variety of symptoms that are just not right. Childhood depression is a serious condition that requires treatment; it is not just a case of the blues that will go away on its own.
Child depression can come about as a result of separation from a parent or caregiver, illness or injury, and childhood abuse or neglect. Sometimes, strange circumstances can cause children to experience depressive symptoms, like a car accident or witnessing domestic violence.
The signs of infant and child depression vary, making it hard for parents to detect. What parents do notice is that their child is clearly upset, sad, or moody. When the changes in an infant's or child's behavior is serious enough to concern parents, it is time to check with a pediatrician or child mental health expert.
What are the signs of infant or child depression?
- Hopelessness and sadness
- Low energy or fatigue
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty concentrating
- Appetite and sleep patterns may change
- Little ones may complain of tummy aches, muscle soreness, or headache
- Some children become overly sensitive, moody, or angry
- Falling behind in school
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
Children will not have all these symptoms, but parents will notice some changes that are concerning. A family history of depression, mental illness, or domestic violence are factors that may increase a child's risk of depression.
If the problem is genetic or biochemical, medications can help stabilize mood. The Mayo Clinic cautioned parents about the potential dangers of antidepressants for children. Some children react to antidepressants by becoming more depressed and potentially suicidal.
The great news is that childhood depression is treatable. Counseling and psychotherapy provide support for the child and the family to turn things around. Parents can work as a team with their child's pediatrician, counselor, psychologist, and teachers to provide support and move a child toward stability and happiness.
Check out first two articles in this series on Child Depression: Can Parents Pass Childhood Depression On To Their Kids? and 7 Ways to Protect Child Mental Health from Parental Depression. Darleen Claire is a Parenting Expert, Educator, and Counselor with a focus on brain-based learning for children and adults. Read more on child mental health & education at ParentBlog.org.