It’s not unusual for children to feel sad, angry or moody for short periods of time. However, when those feelings last longer than two weeks and interfere with daily activities, that child may be showing signs of depression.
Too often, childhood depression is labeled as growing pains and not treated seriously. About 5 percent of all children suffer from depression, although the condition nearly doubles in teenagers.
If you are asking yourself: Is my child depressed? Consider looking for these warning signs:
- Negative mood, thinking or attitude
- Rejecting activities once enjoyed
- Inability to concentrate
- Seemingly tired all the time
- Too much or too little sleep
- Sudden changes in diet
- Feeling overwhelmed
A child may only show a few of the symptoms of depression, but a child with significant depression will likely lose interest in school, change their social activities and change their appearance. Teenagers suffering from depression may also engage in substance abuse and are more likely to attempt suicide.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens, according to Public School Review. A nationwide survey found 16 percent of teens seriously considered suicide and one of the risk factors is a history of depression or other mental illness.
If parents think their child is showing signs of depression, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests first having a conversation with the child. Parents should also talk to their doctor, including a conversation about family history because children of adults with depression are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition.
The most important step to take is to seek treatment for depression. About two thirds of all people who have depression do not seek treatment for the condition, yet 70 percent of those who get help often see improvement in as little as a few weeks.
We’re here to help if you think your childhood is suffering from depression. Take our one-minute depression assessment or download our e-Book on childhood depression.