Childhood depression is different from the normal “blues” and daily emotions that children go through as they develop. Just because a child appear sad doesn’t necessarily mean they have significant depression. But if the sadness becomes discouragement or interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, or family life, it may mean they have a depressive illness. Put in mind that while depression is a serious illness, it’s also a treatable one.
A depressive disorder is typically defined as a mood disorder which goes above the usually blue mood, it goes across the average sadness and grief an individual feels. Somebody suffering from Depression may not only experience sadness and negative thoughts but may also lose interest in their daily activities or activities they liked doing before viz. eating, sleeping, talking, sexual activity. They may also develop aches beyond their body and might not want to continue living. These individuals frequently have suicidal thoughts and may also resort to self-harming. Initially, the general public did not believe that children could suffer from a severe condition like this and had highly invalidated children who did experience depression but over time with growing research being done in this field, people have been growing more and more tolerant.
Depression is actually common at every age and has been estimated to affect more than 16% of children at some point in their lives and it has been seen to be increasing in children and adolescents. Children may suffer from episodes of reasonable to severe depression which can be associated with major depressive disorder, or dysthymia according to best psychologist in India. Depression may also beyond doubt as a part of other mood disorders namely bipolar disorder or might be a result of a child’s exposure to some particular medications or drug abuse. While all of the mentioned earlier reasons could be hypothesized to be the reason for a child’s depression, it is important to understand that a single factor does not contribute to this condition; a number of biological, psychological, and environmental factors can also play a part.

Signs and symptoms of depression in children:

The symptoms of depression in children vary. The condition is often undiagnosed and untreated because symptoms are received off as normal emotional and psychological changes. Early medical research focused on “masked” depression, where a child’s depressed mood was evidenced by acting out or angry behavior. While this does happen, especially in younger children, many children display sadness or low mood similar to adults who are depressed. The primary symptoms of depression rotate around sadness, a feeling of hopelessness, and mood changes.
Signs and symptoms of depression in children added:

• There may be changes with hunger and weight
• They may be feeling snappy, sad, always in tears
• They may be feeling a loss of energy in them
• They may be feeling some regret or ashamed of something from the past or may feel that they may do something wrong
• They may be having trouble in concentration
• There may be a loss of interest in activities which they used to enjoy previous
• They may be feeling agitated
• There may be frequent thoughts of suicide or they may be thinking of death
• There may be some sleep disturbances like insomnia or extra sleeping
• Away from this they may be having some physical issues like stomach aches, headaches or they may also indulge in substance use with poor performance in school.
Not all children have all of these symptoms. In fact, most will show different symptoms at different times and in different settings. Although some children may continue to do fairly well in structured environments, most kids with important depression will have a noticeable change in social activities, loss of interest in school, poor academic performance, or a change in presence. Children may also begin using drugs or alcohol, chiefly if they are over age 12.

Causes of depression in children:

Some common causes of depression in children are stressful life reaction and divorce of parents. But genetics may also play a important role in it. The causes may be as follows:
• Brain chemistry: when there is some inequality in the neurotransmitters and hormones, it will affect the way the brain works. This will change the mood and emotions in turn.
• Environmental factor: When the environment is stressful and chaotic, it may also change the children and make them go into depression.
• Family history: Research has solved that children who have a history of parents or anyone in the family with any mood disorders, are at a higher risk of depression.
• Stress and trauma: Some changes like after the dissolution of the parents or moving into another house or some trauma like losing a loved one, an abuse or an aggression may also affect the thinking pattern of the child and make the child depressed. This may be because for a short time or long time also.

For the treatment action typically pediatricians and primary care doctors are approached for diagnosis first for childhood depression, may be due to the social stigma around it. It becomes important though to approach mental health counselors who are efficient in this particular field. While accepting the treatment, family support becomes truly important for a child. The family should encourage a healthy mental state, good lifestyle habits, and also inspire the child to be more in touch with their feelings. With the right contact, techniques, and good support and love around, the child feels reassured and it helps them heal faster.

Can Depression in Children Be Prevented?

Children with a family history of depression are also at higher compromise of depression. Children who have parents with depression bear to have their first episode of depression earlier than children whose parents don’t have the condition. Children from chaotic or conflicted families, or children and teens who abuse physical matters like alcohol and drugs, are also at greater risk of depression.

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