Depression in Children
Studies have found that first-time depression in children is occurring at younger ages than previously. As in adults, depression may occur again later in life. Depression often occurs at the same time as other physical illnesses. And because studies have shown that depression may precede more serious mental illness later in life, diagnosis, early treatment and close monitoring are crucial.
As a parent, it is sometimes easier to deny that your child has depression. You may put off seeking the help of a mental health care professional because of the social stigmas associated with mental illness. It is very important for you -- as the parent -- to understand depression and realize the importance of treatment so that your child may continue to grow physically and emotionally in a healthy way. It is also important to seek education about the future effects depression may have on your child throughout adolescence and adulthood.
Depression in Children: Warning Signs
Parents should be particularly vigilant for signs that may indicate that their child is at risk for suicide.
Warning signs of suicidal behavior in children include:
- Many depressive symptoms (changes in eating, sleeping, activities)
- Social isolation
- Talk of suicide, hopelessness, or helplessness
- Increased acting-out of undesirable behaviors (sexual/behavioral)
- Increased risk-taking behaviors
- Frequent accidents
- Substance abuse
- Focus on morbid and negative themes
- Talk about death and dying
- Increased crying or reduced emotional expression
- Giving away possessions