Recognizing symptoms of depression in children is a challenge for parents. Often times, they’ll mistake signs of depression with normal, moody teenage behavior.
Plus, children and teens won’t often say ‘I’m depressed’ outright, or may use cryptic language when they try to express their feelings, recent research suggests.
Teens and children prefer words like ‘down’ or ‘stressed’, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and College of Nursing found in a 2017 study.
Interestingly, parents assume a child with depression is sad, though young people with depression are more likely to report being angry or irritable.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, other signs of adolescent or teen depression include:
- sleep problems (they often sleep more)
- loss of interest in friends
- changes in appetite
- hopeless or guilty thoughts
- changes in body movements, such as feeling edgy or slowed down
- frequent physical illnesses
Having said that, these signs could be part of the emotional rollercoaster of being a kid. An important differentiator is whether the symptoms persist for two weeks or longer.
Arguably the biggest hurdle to overcome in getting kids help with depression is the stigma surrounding it. Luckily, new guidelines are helping parents and caregivers become more comfortable having conversations about mental health at home and, when needed, work with the doctor on a care and treatment plan for their child.
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