Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of Pediatric Depression
Look around your kid’s school or sports team. Now count each child or teen, one through five, repeating until you have counted them all. Every fifth person should stand apart from the others.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as many as 20% or 1 in 5 teens experience depression at some point during their adolescence. A record 3.1 million people between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
And while depression in children and adolescents is on the rise, treatment rates aren’t. A concerning 80 percent of kids are either not getting treatment or the treatment they are getting is insufficient. Depression can affect anyone, from any background, and often spikes following puberty. People who have immediate family members with a history of depression or mood disorders are at a higher risk.
The stigma that surrounds mental health is still prevalent in the US. Kids don’t want to appear weak or different from their peers, so they hide the agony and pain they feel. When depression goes untreated, the risk for prolonged and more severe depressive episodes in the future increases.
It is crucial that parents, teachers, coaches, and caregivers learn to recognize the signs of depression in children and teens. They don’t always look the same as they do in adults. People with depression can have all, some or none of the symptoms listed below. It is important to recognize that these symptoms usually occur on most days, for at least two weeks.
Symptoms of Depression in Children and Adolescents
- Irritability and/or anger
- Loss of interest in usual fun activities
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Sleep increase (or decrease)
- Comments indicating low self-worth or confidence
- Appetite or weight changes
- Talk about death or dying
- Talk about running away (or running away)
Younger children often experience aches, pains, restlessness, and anxiety about being away from family members.
When Should My Child Get Help?
If the child’s school, social, and home life is adversely impacted by depression, it is time to get help. If a child ever talks about suicide, get help immediately by calling 911 or taking them to the ER. Talk to their pediatrician. They can assess their symptoms and provide a referral to a specialist if needed.
At routine physicals, the providers at Rainbow Pediatrics will ask questions to help determine if your child may be experiencing depression. But you are with your child every day. Let us know if you suspect they may be depressed so we can help.