Major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, is characterized by a constant feeling of sadness and a lack of interest in once-loved activities. Children can indeed be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, and the National Institute of Mental Health reports that its incidence is growing – possibly due to the increasing awareness of its symptoms and successful treatments.
Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder
Fortunately, when detected and treated, depression in children can be controlled – thus lessening its impact on the child’s developmental milestones, interpersonal relationships, and life skills.
So, how can depression be detected in children? How do you know whether it’s normal childhood angst or truly developing into clinical depression?
Symptoms of major depressive disorder in children (and in adults) include:
- Apathy toward things that were previously enjoyed, such as sports or pets
- Constant and persistent feelings of sadness
- Poor concentration
- Mood swings
- Low energy and fatigue
- Feelings of guilt
- Hostile or aggressive actions or words
- Desire to run away from home or to quit school
- Low self-esteem and lack of confidence
- Desire for self-harm or death
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Inadequate grooming and lack of motivation to stay clean
Reasons Children Can Experience Depression
While every child is unique in genetic makeup, upbringing, and personality traits, researchers have found certain commonalities among children who have major depressive disorder, including the following:
- Inherited tendency for depression and other mental health disorders
- Relationships involving neglect
- Relationships involving abuse
- Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic incident
- Smoking cigarettes
- Loss of a parent, relative, or caregiver
- Learning or other developmental/physical disability
How a Behavioral Health Clinic Can Help Your Child with Depression
Typically, several symptoms of major depressive disorder appear at once. If they persist for two weeks or longer, the child may be diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
Parents should contact a behavioral health expert for a professional assessment of their child. If depression is determined to be the cause of the child’s behavioral issues, then treatments may include the following:
- Medications, such as antidepressants
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy, including identification of stressors and learning coping skills
- Family counseling (parental involvement is key to successful treatment)
Mental Health Providers in Richmond, Martinsville, and , VA
If you are concerned about the mental health of your child, or if you think your child may have clinical depression, EPIC Health Partners is here for you. Contact us today by calling (434) 835-4601 to schedule an in-depth consultation, or fill out our appointment request form online now. We have three locations: Richmond, Martinsville, and Danville, Virginia, and we also offer convenient telehealth visits.
As always, if you or a loved one is experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, do not wait. Call 911, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255), or text “HOME” to 741-741. There is real help and hope available now.