Recognizing Depression in Children

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between someone who’s just sad, and a person who is depressed. Kids are no exception. There could be numerous reasons why your child isn’t acting like their typical self. Issues at school, arguments with friends and even a more serious family loss could all be factors in your child’s recent behavior. While talking out your child’s issues one-on-one is a good place to start, another factor to consider is whether or not your child is depressed.

Clinical depression is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders in children. Children with depression experience many of the same symptoms as adults. However, because depressed children are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, anger and anxiety, local experts stress the importance of early diagnosis.

“Within the past couple of years, depression in children and adolescents has risen significantly, most likely in conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic,” explains Jon Dvorak, MD. “Your primary care provider can help diagnose depression through parent/patient/practitioner communication and use of depression questionnaires, as well as treating and referring out for further psychiatric care.”

Symptoms of depression vary by person, but here are a few warning signs:

  • Persistent sadness.
  • Inability to enjoy or loss of interest in favorite activities.
  • Increased activity or irritability.
  • Frequent complaints of physical illnesses, such as headaches or stomach aches.
  • Frequent absences or poor performance in school.
  • Persistent boredom, feeling hopeless, low energy, or poor concentration.
  • Major changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse.
  • Failure to thrive.
  • Thoughts about death or suicide.

While these warning signs are severe, you can take comfort knowing that help is just a phone call away. If you believe your child may be depressed, contact your child’s doctor as soon as possible.

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