Depression: It Affects Children Too

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While it may be hard to believe, children can be affected with depression.

In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about 2 percent of school-aged children experience the signs and symptoms of depression.

And, since suicide is the third-leading cause of death among children between the ages of 15 and 18, it is extremely important to be aware of the warning signs of depression so that help and treatment can be obtained.

Girls vs. Boys

While the number of boys and girls who are affected by depression is almost equal in childhood, these statistics change as children get older. By the time children reach adolescence, twice as many girls than boys are diagnosed with depression.

Signs and Symptoms

According to NAMI, following are signs and symptoms that may be seen in children, which should prompt an evaluation from a healthcare provider:

  • Sad or “blue” feelings, or overall negative feelings
  • Feeling isolated, empty or hopeless
  • Discussing suicide or worrying about the death of a person close to them
  • Increasing irritability or even sulking
  • Feeling that they are misunderstood
  • Pretending to be sick or refusing to go to school
  • Deteriorating academic performance
  • Making many visits to the school nurse
  • Not engaging in previously pleasurable activities or interactions with friends
  • Abusing substances

Treatments

Similar to adults with depression, psychotherapy, or "talk therapy," as well as prescription antidepressant medications have been shown to be effective in treating depression in children.

Source: National Alliance on Mental Health

 
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