I’m a psychologist – here are 12 signs your child is depressed and when you should see a GP

MOODY or depressed?

More often than not, it’s the former and your child or teen is behaving as you would expect for their age.

You may be overlooking the signs of depression in your child or teen

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You may be overlooking the signs of depression in your child or teenCredit: Alamy
dr Nihara Krause

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dr Nihara KrausePhoto credit: Dr. Nihara Krause

But kids can get depressed too — and it’s your job as parents to spot the signs.

dr Nihara Krause, a consultant clinical psychologist and founder of youth welfare organization stem4, told The Sun: “I’m often asked if children and adolescents can really be diagnosed with clinical depression.

“My answer to that is yes, because clinical depression is an illness and can often start in early middle childhood and affect about one in eight children and adolescents.

“As we emerge from two years that have been like no other, it’s probably true to say that many young people will be feeling tired, down and negative.”

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So how can parents discern such highs and lows from early signs of depression?

Recognizing that someone is suffering from depression can be difficult, whether they are a child or an adult.

People with mental illness don’t just walk around in tears and explain that they are depressed. In fact, they seem perfectly fine.

“For parents, the signs are not so easy to spot, because being depressed does not automatically mean that children or adolescents look down or sad,” says Dr. frill.

“Childhood or adolescent depression should always be diagnosed by a suitably qualified professional, as not all young people have all of the symptoms described.

“In fact, many show different symptoms in different environments. In these cases, it is important not to discredit them.”

The 12 signs and symptoms

No two children are alike, but there are some common symptoms of depression to look out for.

They revolve around a general feeling of sadness and hopelessness.

dr Krause says watch out for:

  1. Persistent tears or sadness
  2. hopelessness
  3. Sleep routine changes
  4. food changes
  5. fatigue
  6. complaints of pain
  7. Withdrawing from activities they enjoyed and socializing
  8. Showing negative attitudes towards schoolwork
  9. difficulty concentrating
  10. Bad motivation
  11. An increase in risky behavior, self-harm, and thoughts of death or suicide
  12. Self-soothing behaviors like gaming

dr Krause says some symptoms could fly under the radar.

They can seem normal to most teens — specifically, they retreat into self-soothing behaviors, “mostly online activities or games where they can avoid facing reality,” she explains.

“This can be particularly difficult to separate from general youth behavior online, which can be over the top.”

Who is at risk?

Depression is caused by a number of factors related to the environment, genetics, life events, and lifestyle habits.

But sometimes there is no clear reason at all why someone ends up suffering from this disease.

dr Krause says a family history of depression may predispose your child.

Other factors include “any major life events (e.g., parental divorce) or unexpected or significant deaths.”

Bullying, trauma or poor physical health can also develop into depression.

“Young people who may be sexually or gender-questioning or who are LGBTQ+ are also at higher risk for depression,” adds Dr. Krause added.

What do you do next?

So you think your child might be suffering from depression, what next?

dr Krause says, “If you’re concerned, the first step is to see your GP to assess both your physical and mental health.”

A GP may refer your child to a local child and adolescent psychiatric unit (CYPMHS) for specialized help.

CYPMHS will have different waiting times depending on where you live.

The positives to remember, says Dr. Krause, is that depression is treated very effectively once it is diagnosed.

Treatment “usually involves individual or family counseling and occasionally medication.”

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dr Krause adds, “Regular exercise is effective in controlling mild depression, and following a healthy diet and adequate sleep should be part of a treatment plan.”

She recommends the Move Mood app she developed for stem4.

“It uses an approach called Behavioral Activation Therapy (BAT) that helps set goals to do things you value to break the cycle of depressive behaviors and get you back on track,” she said.

https://www.thesun.ie/health/8743100/signs-your-child-depressed-when-see-gp/ I’m a psychologist – here are 12 signs your child is depressed and when you should see a GP

Fry Electronics Team

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