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Depression in Children and Teenagers

Depression in Children and Teenagers



Depression is a very real and serious problem for both children and teens.

Research has shown that childhood depression often persists, recurs and continues into adulthood, especially if it goes untreated. The presence of childhood depression also tends to be a predictor of more severe illnesses in adulthood.

How Does Depression Affect Children?

A child with depression may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that a parent may die. Older children may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative and irritable, and feel misunderstood. Because these signs may be viewed as normal mood swings typical of children as they move through developmental stages, it may be difficult to accurately diagnose a young person with depression.

Boys and girls are equally likely to develop depressive disorders, even before reaching puberty. By age 15, however, girls are twice as likely as boys to have experienced a major depressive episode.

Depression in adolescence comes at a time of great personal change–when boys and girls are forming an identity distinct from their parents, grappling with gender issues and emerging sexuality, and making decisions for the first time in their lives. Depression in adolescence frequently co-occurs with other disorders such as anxiety, disruptive behavior, eating disorders or substance abuse. It can also lead to an increased risk of suicide.

One research study of 439 adolescents with major depression found that a combination of medication and psychotherapy was the most effective treatment option. Researchers are developing and testing ways to prevent suicide in children and adolescents, including early diagnosis and treatment, and a better understanding of suicidal thinking.

The cases of childhood depression have been increasing in the last few years. Yet, information and awareness about this topic have not reached the same level. 

First, you should know depression in children is different from the usual ‘blues’. Just because a kid appears sad doesn’t certainly mean he or she has depression. However, if the sadness becomes persistent, or obstructs with regular social activities, hobbies, interests, school tasks, or family gatherings, it may suggest that he or she has a depressive illness. Keep in mind, depression is a severe illness, but it can be treated with the right approach and solutions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Treat?

Depression is mainly associated with noticeable brain changes viewed on functional brain MRI studies of a depressed person. Some of the depression treatment in Bangalore like psychotherapy is proven to offer long-term benefits and neural changes in the brain. Depression affects with daily activities and functioning, causing immense pain and sadness to both the depressed individual and their loved ones. Depression may unfortunately lead to self-harm and suicide as well. Hence, treating  it is extremely essential.  

How to Know a Child Needs Treatment?

Apart from an overall assessment, your child’s pediatrician may manage rating scales and other types of evaluation to decide the degree of depression and may suggest you connect with a reliable psychiatrist or a psychotherapist.

A child/teen may need treatment for depression when their school, social, and/or home functioning is primarily affected by depressive symptoms, constantly.

What Type of Treatment?

The treatment depends on the certain clinical condition, age and situation of the child. For mild to moderate depression, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is the common first-line treatment option along with antidepressant medications ( SSRI medications, also called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). For kids younger than 10, other modalities of psychotherapy like play therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and behavior therapy are preferred by trusted treatment centres for depression.

Such a condition is also treated with psychotherapy and a mixture of medicines, generally an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer. However, antidepressants need to be taken with caution, as these can activate bouts of hyperactive or manic behaviour in children, especially in the case of bipolar disorder. Managing a kid’s medication should be a part of a full care plan that involves therapy and routine basic care appointments. 

If you have doubts and questions related to any of your child’s behaviour or thoughts, feel free to discuss with your healthcare provider. One may notice that if trials of two or more antidepressants are not beneficial, or if a kid/teen is sensitive to such medications in general, other avenues can be tried. Be open to stress management therapy in Bangalore along with genetic testing that mixes personal genetic data with medication details to obtain a suitable remedy. 

In addition, if your kid is taking such medication, ensure to monitor the condition closely and discuss everything with the chosen physician and therapist regularly for a better understanding of his or her condition and improvement.