Depression in adults presents itself differently from children and adolescents. A study was conducted in 2007 found that depression in children is typically more serious than in adults. While both reported and showed that the depression was caused primarily by stress which causes chemical imbalances; children acted out more violently towards others and themselves. Most adults spoke to family members or friends about their depression while most children spoke to no one. (Perry, 2007)
Below are some symptoms to look out for if you believe your child or teen is depressed.
Depressive symptoms in children include:
- social withdrawal
- loss of cognitive, social and interpersonal skills
- poor school attendance
- irritable peer and family relationships
- reports a preoccupation with the subject of death
- sad or flat affect
- isolates self from family and/or peers
- uses street drugs to elevate mood
- lacks interest in previously enjoyed activities
Treatment for Children/Adolescents with Depression
Typically a child/adolescent will start off with psychotherapy as an initial option for treatment. Antidepressant medications that can be used are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). While SSRI’s can be beneficial, they should be used with caution and thorough evaluation by a doctor to determine if the medication is appropriate. “Recently, there has been some concern that the use of antidepressant medications themselves may induce suicidal behavior in youths” (Bridge, 2007). It is recommended that children/adolescents who take medication receive ongoing medical monitoring.
Disclaimer: While the author is a mental health professional, this post is not to be used to give readers a medical diagnosis. If your child is struggling with the above symptoms, seek help from a professional as soon as possible.
Perry, MA, B., Pescosolido, PHD, B., Martin, PHD, J., Mcleod, PHD, J., & Jenson, MD, P. (2007, May 1). Comparison of Public Attributions, Attitudes, and Stigma in Regard to Depression among Children and Adults. Retrieved November 25, 2014, from http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/ps.2007.58.5.632
Bridge JA., Olfson M.,Simon G., Treatment for Adolescents with depression team. (2007). Antidepressant medication for children and adolescents. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/child-and-adolescent-mental-health/antidepressant-medications-for-children-and-adolescents-information-for-parents-and-caregivers.shtml