There is often the image of happy-go-lucky children, but this may not always be the case. However, children can experience depression.
There are some similarities and some differences in depression in adults and children. Children aged seven to seventeen may resemble adults in terms of their depressed mood, inability to experience pleasure, fatigue, concentration problems and thoughts of suicide. They differ because the rates of suicide attempts are higher, they may experience more guilt, more frequent early waking, more weight loss, loss of appetite and early morning depression than adults. Depression in children is also recurrent. Children who have had a major depression are likely to continue to show significant depressive symptoms four to eight years later. Estimates of the amount of children experiencing depression depend on the country, sample used and age of children.
Depression can also be inferred from some behaviours, such as acting aggressively and misbehaving, which would not be used in adults as showing an underlying depression. Depression has been found to occur in less than 1% of pre-school age children, 2 – 3% of school age children, but 7 – 13% of adolescents. In adolescence, females outweigh males by a ratio of 2:1 in experiencing depression, but prior to the age of 12, boys are more likely to experience depression.
There is a problem with diagnosing depression due to the presence of other factors. Up to 70% of children with depression will also have an anxiety disorder or significant anxiety symptoms. Depression is also common with children with conduct disorders or attention deficit disorders.
What is Depression?
Everyone goes through periods of feeling a bit fed up or down. We often hear people say that they are depressed, but actual depression is more than just feeling a bit sad and down. With depression a person will feel persistently sad for weeks or even months, sometimes even years.
Depression is a very serious condition with real symptoms, not something that a person can stop by “pulling themselves together”. Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide range of symptoms.
Doctors will describe depression according to how serious the depression is –
Clinical depression is a serious mental illness that negatively affects how a person thinks. There are many different symptoms and a person with depression is unlikely to have all symptoms. But if a person experiences these symptoms for the majority of the day, every day for more than two weeks, they should seek medical help.
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