Depression is a mood disorder characterised by feeling sad, irritable or hopeless and a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. It goes beyond usual ups and downs of mood. Depression may affect sleep, appetite and relationships with others.
Depression can affect people of any age including children and adolescents. Depression may sometimes lead to thoughts of self-harm. In children and young people depression and anxiety often go together.
Signs of depression in children and young people
Some of the more common signs that your child might frequently experience if struggling with depression include:
- Sadness, or a persistent low mood
- Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy
- Being irritable or grumpy a lot or all of the time
- Feeling easily tired
Your child may also:
- Have trouble sleeping or sleep more than usual
- Find it hard to concentrate
- Interact less with friends and family
- Have poor self-esteem
- Eat less than usual or overeat
- Express feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Feel emotionally numb
- Have behavioural problems at school.
- Have thoughts about self-harming or actually self-harm
- Some children also have physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach aches.
- Problems at school can be a sign of depression in children and young people and so can problem behaviour.
- Older children who are depressed may misuse substances
What causes depression in children and teenagers?
Sometimes depression is triggered by one difficult event, such as parents separating or bullying at school. In other children, it may be caused by more than one factor coming together. For example, your child may have a tendency to get depression and also experienced some difficult life events.
Physical illness, stressful life events, bullying, abuse, family difficulties and a family history of depression or other mental health problems are the common risk factors for having depression.
Depression treatment for children and young people
Early onset of depression predicts a worse prognosis and depression is often co-morbid with other disorders such as anxiety and substance misuse. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment are essential for recovery.
Based on your child's symptoms, age, risk and presence of any co-morbidities, your child's team will design a personalized treatment plan.
Depression, can often be effectively treated. Treatment requires a comprehensive evaluation of the child and family. Treatment may include one, or more, of the following:
Antidepressant medications have been widely used in children and adolescents with depression and have been shown to be effective treatments, especially when combined with psychotherapy.
Cognitive-behavioural and/or interpersonal therapy is focused on changing the child's ways of thinking and acting or working through difficult relationships; identifying stressors in the child's environment and learning how to avoid them
Family therapy may sometimes be advised
Why choose the Priory Wellbeing Centre?
Appropriate and early treatment is crucial to helping a child on the path to recovery from depression and reduces the risk of recurrence of depression later on in life.
Our Priory Wellbeing Centres have a specialised Child and Adolescent team comprised of experts who have extensive experience in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of depression in children and young people using the latest, evidence-based methods. They ensure that your child has the best individualised care possible to allow your child to thrive in school, at home, in relationships and in daily activities.
For further information about our Children and Adolescent Services call today on: (+971) 4 245 3800 (Dubai) / (+971) 2 651 8111 (Abu Dhabi) or submit an enquiry form in confidence. We will provide you with details on all our treatments and offer help on how to support your child's or teenager's mental health and wellbeing.