I am a concerned mother of a 10 year old. I want to know if children can suffer from depression. If yes, how can I tell if my child is depressed?
Definitely, yes; childhood depression is a real condition. It is different from the occasional sadness or the blues. If the sadness persists to a point where it interferes with the child’s functioning in the different areas of his/her life, it may be possible that he/she is depressed. The symptoms of depression in children vary. It is often misdiagnosed as many people see it as normal psychological changes due to growing up. The main symptoms of depression revolve around sadness, feelings of hopelessness and mood changes. The following list of the signs and symptoms of depression in children can assist you. These are:
• fatigue and low energy
• medical symptoms, such as headaches and stomachaches that don’t respond to medical treatment
• difficulties with concentrating, thinking and memory
• withdrawing socially or no interest in previously enjoyed activities
• changes in sleeping and eating patterns
• irritability or anger outbursts
• continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
• feelings of worthlessness and/or guilt
• thoughts of death and suicide.
Please remember that not all children have all of these symptoms. Most children display different symptoms at different times and in different settings. If you suspect that your child is depressed, first consult with your medical practitioner. A referral to a psychologist may be made if the need arises, to effect further treatment.