September 11, 2009

Childhood Depression Signs & Symptoms

Posted in Category : Depression

Childhood is usually portrayed as a happy carefree time, free of worries and stresses. For many of us, this may be true. But if we think back carefully to our childhood, we can usually find a few unhappy times. For some children, though, this unhappiness turns into depression for a variety of reasons. Some people are just more prone to being depressed, while for others, a traumatic experience may be too difficult to handle or the child may not be counseled appropriately.With children, depression becomes harder to diagnose than in adults. This is because children usually don’t know that they’re depressed either, and lack the ability to vocalise their feelings. But it’s important to diagnose it, because it can rob a child of his best years, and seriously affect his or her personality as an adult. If you suspect that your child suffers from depression, here are a few symptoms to look out for.

Symptoms can be divided into four essential categories Emotional, Cognitive (thinking and learning), physical problems, and behavioral changes.

Emotional Symptoms:

Children suffering from depression may show any of these emotions regularly

  • Sadness – he or she may cry at things that shouldn’t normally affect him this way, and may feel despondent or helpless. Some children will withdraw to hide this.
  • Loss of interest – a child may lose interest in activities, like sports or music, that earlier interested him.
  • Anxiety – the child may be more anxious or tense than usual, especially in certain situations.
  • Turmoil – If your child is chronically worried, irritable, or angry, this may point to depression.

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Difficulty organising thoughts – problems with concentrating in class, remembering or not completing easy tasks.
  • Pessimism – Children are not usually negative, and this is an important symptom to watch for.
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt about problems, and seeing a lot of faults in oneself.
  • Isolation – children may become loners, especially if they are being bullied by other children.
  • Suicidal thoughts – children, too, have these thoughts, and may sometimes express these. These expressions should be taken very seriously, and not brushed off.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Changes in eating habits – as with adults, children too may start eating more or less, and have visible changes in appetite.
  • Sleep problems – Children who cannot sleep at night, but have problems staying up at school.
  • Sluggishness or agitation – sometimes, children may be slower in most activities than usual, or much more agitated and fidgety.

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Withdrawal or avoidance – if your child avoids day to day activities, or withdraws from family and friends.
  • Demanding and clinging behavior – a sense of insecurity may make depressed children excessively needy and dependent on some relationships.
  • Restlessness – while many children are restless, behaviour like fidgeting, becoming a nuisance in class, recklessness may point to depression.
  • Self Harm – harming oneself is a dead giveaway of a deep seated problem like depression.