The behavior and symptoms of children and adolescents with depression may be different to that of adults with depression, so it is often not detected by parents, your teachers, adults around or your doctor. A child who used to play with his friends and now spends all of his time alone doing nothing is a sign of depression but easily mistaken as something else.
Sometimes children with depression may talk about death, or say things like they want to die, sometimes, they may even say that no one will care when something awful will happen to them.
Teens with depression may abuse alcohol or drugs, cause problems at home or at school. As the child does not seem sad, parents and teachers may not realize other behavior like being irritable, disobedient and conflict can be a sign of depression, but if asked, these children often say they feel sad, hopeless, disappointed, bored, tired and listless.
If your child has one or more of the following signs of depression, parents should seek help seeing the doctor either a pediatrician or a psychologist as soon as possible it highly recommended because it is a treatable disease, and that if you try to ignore can have serious consequences.
High Irritability, anger, hostility or the extreme difficulty of coexistence at home are just some of the signs of depression. Here are few more signs that will parents diagnose depression in children.
- Frequent sadness or crying spells
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Decreased interest in activities, or difficulty having fun in activities that previously were their favorites
- Persistent boredom
- Lack of energy or fatigue
- Social isolation or lack of communication
- Low self-esteem or sense of guilt or responsibility for bad things that can happen
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or little resistance to failures or errors
- Frequent complaints about physical problems such as headaches or stomachaches, dizziness and nausea in which no medical cause is found
- Frequent absences from school or school performance degradation
- Trouble concentrating
- A major change in eating or sleeping habits
- Conversations about running away from home with intention
- Thoughts or expressions about death or suicide
Drug Treatment for Depression in Children and Teenagers
Medical treatment of depression in young people is not necessarily treated with antidepressant medication but there are drugs that can use be use when needed.
Antidepressants that are currently shown in scientific studies to be effective in children and adolescents with depression are called selective inhibitors of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Antidepressants are not drugs, does not create dependency or addiction, or change the child’s personality. These medications are needed in children with depression like diabetes in children with insulin or inhalers in children with asthma. They are safe and do not cause damage to the brain, or the liver or the kidney, or any other organ.
The risk of taking antidepressant is much lower than the risk of not treating depression – suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, poor school performance, relationship problems with parents, social isolation. Antidepressants usually take several weeks to work, and sometimes it is necessary to adjust the dose after 1 month if not all symptoms have improved. Sometimes, there are side effects that are slight and brief especially early in the treatment such as nausea, heartburn, or sleep deprivation but most of the time; the children can tolerate the medication without any side effects.
It is important to talk with your doctor if you are not benefitted in 3-6 weeks or if side effects occur consistently.
Once recovered, the child and the symptoms have disappeared; treatment should continue to be taken because if you stop too soon, the symptoms can return. Generally, it is suggested to try to keep the treatment for 12 months from the end of symptoms, and then gradually withdraw. This way you reduce the risk of recurrence of new episodes, but as depression is often a chronic, it is possible to suffer relapses in the future. The important thing is to detect the symptoms as early as possible so not to interfere much with family life, social, and academic life.
It is also important to support the child psychotherapy and family since parents often mistakenly blame the problems or difficulties on the child. Also the child has become accustomed to perceive things negatively and automatically assume that things will go wrong and it will be their fault or that they will always fail as always; understanding will always be better.