Childhood depression, also known as pediatric depression, refers to a mental health condition characterized by persistent and pervasive feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that a child typically enjoys. It is a serious and significant mood disorder that affects children and adolescents, and if left untreated, it can have a detrimental impact on a child's emotional, social, and academic functioning.
Some common symptoms of childhood depression may include:
Persistent sad or irritable mood
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
Changes in appetite or weight (either increased or decreased)
Sleep disturbances (such as insomnia or excessive sleeping)
Fatigue or loss of energy
Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Social withdrawal or isolation
Physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, without a clear medical cause
It's important to note that not all children with depression may exhibit the same symptoms, and symptoms can vary in severity and duration. Children with depression may also have co-occurring symptoms or conditions, such as anxiety, behavioral problems, or academic difficulties.
Risk factors for childhood depression can include a family history of depression or other mental health disorders, a history of trauma or adverse childhood experiences, chronic medical conditions, a lack of social support, and certain personality or temperament traits.
Early identification and intervention are crucial in managing childhood depression. If you suspect that your child may be experiencing symptoms of depression, it's important to seek professional help from a qualified mental health professional, such as a paediatrician, psychologist, or child psychiatrist. Treatment may involve a combination of therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, and/or medication, depending on the severity and nature of the depression. Supportive interventions, such as creating a nurturing and supportive environment at home, promoting healthy lifestyle habits, and fostering positive social connections, can also be beneficial in supporting a child with depression.