In the US, depression is the most prevalent mental illness. Depression is incredibly curable once it has been identified. Unfortunately, the numbers on pediatric depression are horrifying. In the US, 1.8 million children (2.5%) experience depression, and often they go unidentified and untreated for extended periods.
Delay in diagnosis and treatment is exacerbated by stigma and silence. Fortunately, CHOC Children's is setting the standard for providing desperately needed assistance for kids dealing with mental diseases like depression.
Kids occasionally experience sadness, appear cranky, or have a foul mood. However, when a child's melancholy or low mood lasts for a few weeks or more, and there are additional behavioral changes, it may be depression.
Children who are depressed or sad can benefit from therapy. Receiving the proper treatment can stop problems from growing worse and improve a child's mood. There are further actions that parents can take.
If your child's sorrow has persisted for a few weeks or longer, discuss it with their doctor.
Causes Of Child Depression
Parents may notice some of these indicators if a kid is depressed:
Moody Or Depressed
A youngster could appear depressed, lonely, unhappy, or cranky. It may continue for weeks or months. The number of tantrums they throw might increase. Children are more likely to weep.
Being Harsh On Oneself
Children that are depressed may grumble a lot. They might criticize themselves by saying, "I can't do anything right." "I have no pals," she said. I'm not able to accomplish this. It's too challenging for me.
Lack Of Effort And Energy
A kid's energy might be sapped by depression. They may not work as hard in school as they formerly did. Even simple things might seem like they need too much effort. Kids may seem tired, give up easily, or not try.
Not Having Any Fun
Children no longer love playing or hanging out with pals as much as they once did. They might not feel like engaging in activities they formerly enjoyed.
Food And Sleep Patterns Alter
Even if children receive enough sleep, they may not sleep well or appear exhausted. Some people might not be hungry. People may overeat.
Pains And Aches
Some kids may have discomfort, such as stomachaches. Even when they are not sick, some people miss school because they are not feeling well.
Several factors can cause depression. There isn't just one reason. Some children are genetically predisposed to depression. They may have relatives who have experienced depression.
Some kids experience difficult situations. Some have experienced tragedy, loss, or adversity. Some people experience major medical issues. These factors can cause sadness or grief, as well as depression, occasionally.
Extra assistance during challenging moments and afterward can help shield kids against depression or mitigate its consequences. But some kids experience depression even with solid support. They can recover, feel better, and resume enjoying life with the aid of therapy.
Depression In The Very Young Child
Parents need to be aware that there is no age-specific cutoff when considering depression. Dr. Nagel has treated kids as young as 2 or 3 with adjustment disorder symptoms and a sad mood.
Parents should be aware of recurring episodes of melancholy, withdrawal, impatience, rage, or acting out that interfere with daily activities.
Depression & Normal Age-Related Mood And Emotion
Parents must realize that it is normal for young toddlers to become upset about things and to act out those emotions by throwing temper tantrums. Particularly in the context of disappointment or rejection, preschoolers are developing their ability to control emotions.
In contrast to a temper tantrum that lasts 10 minutes and is followed by the child acting like their usual, joyful self, parents should be worried if a child exhibits extreme melancholy, discouragement, or irritability virtually every day for much of the day for at least two weeks.
Depression And Genes
Depression has a genetic/biological basis. A risk factor for depression is a family history of the condition. Still, parents should be aware that even if their children may be susceptible to it, they may not go on to experience depression.
Therapy For Child Depression
Depression is very curable once it has been detected. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, many antidepressant medicines have not been well investigated in children under eight, making cognitive-behavioral therapy one evidence-based treatment for depression.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the treatment for pediatric depression (CBT). Kids are made to feel supported and welcome by therapists. Children are encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings. Workbooks, plays, tales, or lessons are all options. Children can feel at ease and benefit the most from CBT with the use of these instruments. A child's parent participates in their therapy when it is practical.
The treatment will involve activities that support a child's recovery from loss, trauma, or other traumatic experiences if they have experienced any of those things. Additionally, the child's therapist can assist the parent in receiving the support and treatment they require if they are struggling with their loss or sadness.
Play therapy can be used in treatment to assist a kid in communicating what they are thinking or experiencing, teach coping mechanisms, and find non-disruptive ways to express emotion. A child psychologist will also interact with the people in the kid's environment to help the youngster find sources of support and attempt to manage situations that might be upsetting.
How To Find Treatment For Young Children's Depression
Dr. Nagel advises parents to consult their child's physician for non-obvious symptoms. In this setting, parents and kids may start a dialogue about depression in a relaxed environment. Direct access to mental health treatments is another option for parents.
The priority at CHOC Children's is child mental health. Their most recent campaign aims to destigmatize the subject of mental health among youngsters to start talks.
To expand access to mental health treatments, CHOC Children's has collaborated with already-existing resources and established resources where there are few. They have also teamed up with local doctors to test for mental illness during formal consultations to aid in early detection and treatment.
More than 150,000 kids in Orange County alone have a mental health disorder, which affects one out of every five kids. Children ages 3 to 18 will be served by the inpatient mental health facility that CHOC is establishing. There aren't any pediatric inpatient psychiatric beds available right now.
What Should I Do If I Think My Child Is Depressed?
Discuss feelings of melancholy and depression with your child. Children might not understand why they are depressed, or life is so challenging. Inform them that you are there to support them and that you recognize the difficulty they are facing. Provide comfort, support, and love while you listen.
Make an appointment to see your child's doctor. If your child's melancholy or foul mood seems to last for a few weeks, inform the doctor. This does not imply that a child is depressed on its own. Let the doctor know if you have also seen changes in your child's sleep, food, energy, or effort. Inform them if your child is experiencing a loss, a lot of stress, or difficulty.
The doctor will do a physical examination. A thorough examination enables the doctor to look for medical conditions that may be the source of your child's complaints. Additionally, they can look for sadness. A child therapist may be recommended to you by your kid's pediatrician. A child therapist could work in the doctor's office.
Make an appointment to see a child therapist. A child therapist (mental health professional) will speak with you and your child for a while. They will listen and ask questions to conduct a thorough examination of depression. Your child's therapist can explain how treatment can benefit them.
Bring your kid along to therapy sessions. The therapist may recommend a few or more sessions. While therapy may take some time, you will improve.
Be gentle and patient. Try to maintain patience when dealing with a problematic or temperamental youngster. The best methods to react when your child behaves this way should be discussed with your child's therapist.
Often, it is beneficial to calmly connect with your child before directing them toward better conduct. This lets youngsters feel pleased about achieving better rather than feeling horrible about it. They can tell that you share their pride.
Have fun together.
Do activities you both like while spending time with your child. Take a stroll, play a game, cook, read a book, create a craft, or watch a humorous movie. If possible, spend some time outside. These things subtly promote happy feelings. They make you feel closer to your child.