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Depression in Kids: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

About 7% of children ages 3 to 17 have anxiety; about 3% deal with depression.

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Kids just like adults can suffer from depression. However, the signs and symptoms may be different from how they manifest in adults. Often times, the signs and symptoms are misunderstood and the kid is accused of being dramatic. Here's a way for parents and guardians to quickly detect depression in kids.

What is depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that can cause someone to feel sad, irritable or hopeless. It may affect your sleep, appetite or relationships with others. Depression can also cause you to lose interest in hobbies or activities you once enjoyed. In severe cases, depression can lead to thoughts of suicide.

Depression is typically diagnosed if symptoms last two weeks or longer. It should only get evaluated, diagnosed and treated by a healthcare provider. Although depression is a serious medical condition, it’s usually treatable.

Depression and anxiety are among the most common mental health disorders in children. About 7% of children ages 3 to 17 have anxiety; about 3% deal with depression. Both depression and anxiety tend to be higher in older children and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17.

Causes of depression among kids

Depression and anxiety in children can have many causes, including:

  • Alcohol or drug use.
  • Environment (including family problems).
  • Family history (others in the family have depression).
  • Physical illness.
  • Stressful life events.

Signs of depression among kids

Parents should look out for the following signs of depression in children:

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  1. Behavioural problems at school.
  2. Changes in eating or sleeping habits.
  3. Feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
  4. Lack of interest in fun activities.
  5. Low energy levels or general tiredness.
  6. Mood changes, such as irritability.

Signs of anxiety among kids

Signs of anxiety in children may include:

  1. Anxiety about the future.
  2. Fear of being away from a parent.
  3. Physical symptoms of panic, such as sweating or dizziness.
  4. Refusal to go to school or take part in social activities.
  5. Worry that a parent or loved one may die.

Suicidal behaviour

Signs of suicidal behavior, including:

  1. Focus on death and dying.
  2. Giving away possessions.
  3. Increased risk-taking.
  4. Self-destructive behavior or self-harm.
  5. Social isolation.
  6. Talk of suicide or hopelessness.

Management and Treatment

The healthcare provider may recommend:

  1. Psychotherapy (counseling).
  2. Medication.
  3. Combination of the two

Prevention of depression and anxiety

As a parent, you can’t always manage the stressors in your child’s life. But you can help improve your child’s mental health by ensuring they get:

  1. Daily exercise.
  2. Safe, supportive environment at home and school.
  3. Plenty of sleep.
  4. Well-balanced meals

Source| Cleveland Clinic


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