There is a growing worldwide concern about depression and suicide among our youngest population, but the signs of depression in children can be different than those in teenagers and adults.
Joan Luby, MD says that depression can arise as early as age three.
Pandemic isolation, struggling with virtual schooling, and family-related stress all contributed to a rise in mental health concerns for children. According to mental health America, last year, more than 2.3 million kids suffered from severe depression.
“The thing that we have to look for are age-adjusted manifestation of those symptoms,” Luby, explained.
Symptoms of depression in youth include being persistently sad or irritable over several weeks, sleep disturbances, fatigue, no longer enjoying the things they use to enjoy, not being motivated to engage in activity, expressing negativity toward themselves or others, and discussing thoughts of death. The key to helping children fight off depression.
Luby recommends parents to be very aware of their child’s emotional state.
If you notice these signs in your child, get help immediately. Also, spend more time outside, take walks, play outdoor games, and get them involved in social activities.
Depression may be more treatable early in life during a time of rapid brain development and developmental change. Early treatment can help to avoid relapses, personality and medical disorders later in life.
Warning signs to look out for in your child:
- Isolation or refusal to attend school;
- Changes in eating habits;
- Withdrawal from peers or social activities;
- Withdrawal from extracurricular activities at school or in the community; and/or
- Reports of bullying, harassment, or intimidation in school, the community, or on social media.