Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Depression is much more common in children and adolescents than once believed. For reasons that are not well understood, there has been a trend toward an earlier age at onset of depression (and manic-depression) in people born since the 1940’s. Also, clinicians are doing a better job of looking for and recognizing depression in these age groups. Quite often, depression in young people consists of the same symptoms as found in adults. At times, however, the diagnoses may be more elusive. The youngsters may not recognize the discomfort that they are experiencing is an illness known as depression.
Although young children may not be able to express their sad mood in words, they often show it with persistent sad expressions. Other indications of depression in young people are loss of motivation and enthusiasm, fatigue, difficulty making decisions, social withdrawal, weight change (up or down), irritability and anger, deterioration of school performance, truancy, acting out and behavioral difficulties, and physical complaints.
Families or teachers may recognize behavioral changes indicative of depression even though the youngster may deny being depressed. Whenever depression is suspected, the child should be evaluated by a doctor experienced in working with this age group. Just as in adults, depression in young people can have a number of causes, and recognizing these causes can lead to very effective treatments. Recognizing and treating depression in youngsters is especially important considering the critical stages of development they are passing through. Also, there has been a disturbing increase in suicide in adolescents over the last few decades, and although suicide is quite rare in children, it does occur.
Treatment for childhood and adolescent depression are the same as those used in adults and include psychotherapies, medications, and combinations of both.
By M Adley
M Adley is webmaster at stopdepressiontoday.com, an unbiased resource of information for those seeking a depression treatment , or those who wish to take a depression test to diagnose their condition.