Depression in Children: Symptoms and Treatments

Introduction

Depression can be defined as a disorder of mood that affects the mind of an individual. The word depression can be used in other aspects such as economy, geology, and physiological depression. Depression is a very common psychological disorder that has been noted to be affecting the Childs overall well being in terms of energy, mood and other behaviours. The child overall body performance is greatly interfered with as a result of depression. The causes of depression can be genetics, biochemical, environmental and psychological (Altshuler , Hendrich , Cohen, 2001).

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There exist many types of depression that range from simple depression to major depressions. Major depressions are ones that are life-threatening to individuals affected. Depression is influenced by various things such as the way one eats, how they sleep, and one’s general thought about issues. It’s not easy to push away depression easily without proper treatment, and if not dealt with appropriately, it can go on forever as it re-occurs in one’s life. Therefore once children are not treated when they are young, the disease can affect them throughout their life. Therefore, we can say it affects children who later can live with it forever into their old age (Gallo,1999).

Symptoms of depression in children

Some of the symptoms of depression are as follows. First, the child feels and looks bored, and this is due to the warring of his mind as it might be thinking of something very different from what they are doing at that particular time. Secondly, a caregiver can easily discover a small child’s depression by change of bowel habit and when a particular child becomes constipated.

Depression can make children not perform the duties they are assigned to do well. When doing their duties, they tend to make constant mistakes which they can make them be punished from time to time for those people who don’t understand them. For those children in teenagehood, they may resolve to use drugs which can affect their health. Other teenagers may become sexually attracted to the opposite sex, which can make them do bad things.

For the very small children, they might look sick, refuse to go to school so that they cling to their mother so that they don’t want to be left alone.

Other symptoms, according to http://mentalhealth.about.com/od/depression/a/depression/html, are “bad moods, feelings of hopelessness, feeling guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, loss of interest or pleasure, decreased energy, difficulty in concentrating, insomnia (lack of sleep), loss of appetite, thoughts of death or suicide attempts, restlessness.

Causes of Depression in Children

Depression can be brought about by certain factors such as inheritance i.e. this can be due to a particular family that has cases of depression that run in their family line as a result of certain genes that exist in their blood. Other causes of depression can be as a result of biochemical, environmental and psychological.

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The loss of one parent or both parents can be a very trying time for a child and can make them develop depression. Stress due to poverty or issues such as political instability can make a child develop depression.

Brain imaging technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging show that the brains of depressed people look different from those who are not affected. It goes on to explain that the parts of the brain responsible for thinking, sleep, appetite, and behaviour appear to function abnormally, but important neurotransmitter chemicals used by the brain in communication appear to be out of balance.

Types of depression common in children

We have very many types of depression, but here we will talk about these mainly affecting children as they are our case study. They are:

  1. Major Depression. This type is exhibited in activities such as work i.e. the child does work assigned to them slowly, or it can be poorly done. The child might lack sleep at night, or also they might have a great or little appetite for food.
  2. Dysthymia. This is a mild form of depression, and it is not easy to detect that a child is suffering from it. Its presence can only be discovered when it becomes serious.
  3. Bipolar depression. As the name says, it’s in 2 forms, even though the symptoms are like the other forms of depression. In this particular form, one experiences a form like its low referred to as depression and its highs referred to as maniac. When one is feeling high, one becomes very active, talks a lot, and shows visible signs of being very energetic. According to http://mentalhealth.about.com/od/depression/a/depression.html, “mania affects thinking, judgment; social behaviour which can, later on, cause embarrassment when one realizes just what he has said. Therefore, this can lead one to make unwise conclusions on issues on whatever activity the child is involved in at that particular time which he regrets later on
  4. Psychotic depression. This type of depression affects one when they come to know the truths about something, e.g., a child born then when it becomes of age it discovers it is living with a foster family because its parents died of Aids.
  5. Sensational Affective Disorder. The children affected become depressed in the winter season, a time when theirs is little sunlight, and they become better at the end of winter, that is in spring and summer. This form of depression can be treated by light therapy, but not all who suffer from this are treated with this form of treatment but can be treated alternatively by antidepressant medication and psychotherapy.

Ways of curbing depression

Various strategies have been developed to deal with the problem of depression in children.

The implementation of these strategies can be undertaken at the group or at the individual level. Family therapy is also another option that cannot be overlooked. Approaches that utilize peer groups have also achieved good results in the treatment of depression in children. Parents in some parts of the world have also been utilizing play therapy in young children. This can be through getting help from experts or doctors who know how well to deal with depression who can guide on ways to follow in order to away from depression. Some of the specialists who deal with depression are antidepressant medications and psychotherapy, and with their help, the affected children can be treated for depression.

The children can also keep busy or get involved to avoid boredom with help from people around them. Therefore the child can be advised to do an activity that bores them for some time, the drift to one that excites them in order to avoid boredom.

Parents and caregivers also have a role that they can play in order to hold their children so that they are not depressed. This can be done by them being close to them so that they can be able to detect any behavioural change in a certain child. They have to very understand, in the discovery of something very strange in a child.

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Those children who have lost their parents should be well-taken care of so that they don’t sink into depression. They can as well be taken to children’s homes where they can grow till they become of age in case there is no one to take care of them.

In conclusion, children are our future leaders and helpers, and they should be properly taken care of so that nothing triggers their development. Parents have to ensure that they seek advice from specialists if they observe the appearance of severe symptoms of depression in their children. They should also seek consultation from mental health specialists if the symptoms are prolonged or appear to be unusual in nature. They should also allow their children to have space and time. This is because depression should come and go. That’s something temporary. (Conwell, 2001)

Drug use in children is a very important issue that should be evaluated by the parents. Good parents are the ones who listen to their children and care well for them. This is a very important aspect for the sake of the child’s health. If all these measures are adequately taken care of by the parents, depression in children becomes a very simple issue to manage and should not cause alarm in the family.

References

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  4. Devan CL, Chiao E, Frankline, M, Kruep E J. Anxiety disorders in the 21st Century: Commodity with depression. American Journal of managed care. 2005
  5. Tsuang M T, Far one S v. The genetic of mood disorders. Baltimore D: John Hopkins University Press 1990
  6. Katon W, Ciechanowski P.I impacts of Major Depression on Chronic Medical Illness. Journal of psychosomatic research 2005
  7. Conwell Y Suicide in later life review and recommendations for prevention. Suicide and life threatening behavior, 2001
  8. Gallo J J, Rabin’s PV. Depression without sadness. Alternative presentations of depression in life.1999
  9. Krishnan KRR Taylor W D, et al Clinical characteristics of magnetic resonance in aging defined sub cortical Ischemic depression. Biological Psychiatry.
  10. Altshuler L L, Hendrich V, Cohen LS Course of mood and anxiety disorder 2001
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