Depression in children and adolescents: what you need to know

Depression in children and adolescents is not a banal manifestation of a bad mood. Also, as in the adult world,   depression   – This is a disease from the group of serious emotional disorders that affects all aspects of a child’s life: health, development, quality of life. Depression is diagnosed in every 50th child and in every 20th adolescent, and many children go through this condition without diagnosis and treatment, which leads to serious deviations, and sometimes to suicides. We shall show RASSC on the causes, types and signs of the disease in childhood and school age.

Causes of Depression

Symptoms of depressive disorders in childhood vary considerably with the manifestations of the disease in adults. Due to this factor, as well as due to an insufficient level of attention to “children’s emotions”, the disease is often not noticed in time, and sometimes it goes undiagnosed and without any therapy.

The causes of depression, as well as in adults, can be endogenous (due to somatic diseases, pathologies, etc.) and exogenous, caused by emotional stress. In both cases, depression requires treatment, no matter how insignificant the cause of the disease may seem to parents.

Major factors leading to depression:

  • pathologies of prenatal development, prenatal infections of the mother and fetus, a long period of hypoxia, including during childbirth, infant encephalopathy and other diseases affecting brain tissue, endocrine, and immune systems;
  • features of relationships in the parental family, the style of raising a child;
  • school relationships or conflicts in a different microsocial meaningful for children;
  • teenage   age: adolescents are at increased risk of affective mental disorders due to physiological development (hormonal changes), attendant changes in appearance, and the socio-psychological aspects of personality formation;
  • genetic predisposition to endogenous depression means an increased likelihood of developing a disorder with external provocation, diseases. The disease can occur with periods of remission and exacerbations, often manifested in adolescents than in early childhood;
  • pronounced stressful situations: death of loved ones, divorce of parents, relocation, for adolescents – exams, undivided sympathies, elevated emotional, intellectual workloads, etc.

Manifestations of the disease, depending on the age of children

Children differ in the manifestation of depressive disorders due to the peculiarities of the age stage of development of the psyche. From a philistine point of view, children with signs of depression are rather “comfortable” in their upbringing, often submissive and obedient. A typical clinical picture with reduced mood, motor retardation and slow thinking in childhood practically does not occur, such symptoms can be observed only in adolescents and older patients. However, young children suffer from depression, only this disorder manifests itself in disguise, atypical.

The earliest age of onset of exogenous depression is about six months. As a rule, from this point on, separation from the mother or another significant adult becomes the main factor causing the disease. With a pronounced stage of the disease, a rather even, but little-emotional and joyless mood of a child with a sadly submissive facial expression draws upon himself . Children with depression are rather slow compared to their peers, do not pay special attention to new toys, activities, people. Unreasonable whims, manifestations of anxiety, negativism, etc. can be periodically noted.

Up to 7-8 years, the emotional side of symptoms in children is rather weak, and the main signs are the presence of motor and autonomic disorders:

  • appetite distortions, including eating disorders – anorexia, overeating;
  • sleep disorders – from insomnia and nightmares to sleepiness;
  • nocturnal enuresis, signs of encopresis ;
  • slowness, reduced motor activity;
  • frequent complaints of headaches, pain in the abdomen, throat, etc.

All the symptoms characteristic of younger age (disturbance of appetite, sleep, enuresis, anxious and suspicious mood) are also manifested in younger schoolchildren in combination with more pronounced emotional manifestations.   diseases. From 7 to 11-12 years, the symptoms of depression can be expressed in a decrease in interest in hobbies, isolation, lethargy, impaired attention and memory, which leads to difficulties with studies.

Symptoms and types of disorders in adolescents

Adolescents with depression are more pronounced emotional, mental symptoms of the disease, a violation of social ties. Common manifestations that can be seen in patients from 12-14 years old include:

  • loss or marked reduction in the ability to enjoy ( agedonia ), indifference to former interests;
  • increased irritability up to previously unusual aggressiveness, gloomy, low mood;
  • decrease in the level of activity, slowness;
  • disturbances of appetite, taste preferences;
  • reduced academic performance, negative or indifferent attitude to study;
  • introversion as a previously closed symptom of a child;
  • sleep problems;
  • headache, other manifestations of the hypochondria equivalent without a physiological cause of the symptoms;
  • suicidal statements, interests, judgments about their inferiority, guilt, unworthiness, low value : “I’m worse than everyone, I’m no good, I don’t need anyone, why should I live”.

Depression is often preceded by a long period of dysthymia, depression, low mood. Some depressed adolescents have classic signs of disorder; in others, the disease may be atypical, in a disguised form. All options require treatment: a teenager without therapy, especially if parents are in conflict with him due to a decline in performance, inaction, a reluctance to “correct”, may move to a more severe stage of the disease, requiring placement in a hospital because of the risk of suicidal behavior.

It is important to know that a depressive disorder at a given age is often disguised as psychopathic behavior, delinquent behavior: the use of alcohol, drugs, extreme sports and entertainment, associated with a high risk of injury. The teenager is unable to understand what is happening to him, and is trying to get rid of painful experiences with the help of drugs or thrills.

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