Could You Identify Depression in Your Child?

Depression 4As parents, there are a host of ailments that we get concerned could impact our children. While pediatric depression might not be at the top of the list, it is a condition that can affect youngsters even from the tender age of three. Clinical psychologist, Deborah Serani, PsyD, shares some of her own experiences with childhood depression in her book entitled Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers.

In the book, Serani recalls retreating to a warm, quiet spot in the basement where she could escape everyone and unwind. Other kids dealing with depression, she says, might disappear to their rooms or other hiding spots to avoid contact with others. Experts caution that the disorder manifests itself quite differently in children than adults. Would you be able to spot these signs of pediatric depression?

• Lethargy and petulance
• Loss of interest in things or activities once important, such as play, school, or spending time with friends
• Bodily pains including headaches or stomach aches
• Feeling or expressing a sense of worthlessness or inability to do things “right”
• Sudden change in behavior, for example slipping grades

Ignoring your child’s symptoms of depression will not make the illness go away. Pediatric depression is real and does merit close attention. Here are some things you can do if you suspect your child might be affected by a mood disorder:

• Speak with your doctor. Your family physician can rule out any other illnesses and provide a referral to a mental health specialist if needed.

• Keep track of how long symptoms persist. Everybody has ups and downs, but periods of melancholy lasting longer than two weeks or symptoms negatively impacting other areas of daily life could be a sign of something more serious.

• Seek help early. A mental health professional can help identify signs that a mood disorder might be developing before it reaches a head. This can lead to interventions which minimize the impact of the disorder.

Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. For years, Family Guidance Center has been a trusted provider of mental health services for both adults and children. To set up a screening or to learn more about pediatric depression, contact Family Guidance Center.