Interest in children’s depression has arisen relatively recently, which is explained by the idea of children as creatures from the very beginning, by nature, happy, cheerful, unable to deeply and lastingly experience their difficulties.
In addition, the withdrawal of children is often perceived as depression and vice versa: childhood depression is mistakenly assessed as withdrawal. At the same time, the clinical picture of depression is obscured by the characteristics of the child’s personality associated with his intellectual development, family influence, culture and development in general. The difficulty is also that depression can be one of the symptoms of many diseases, a syndrome or an independent disease. Often, the diagnosis of sadness in children is hampered by the unconscious desire of parents not to notice it in order to avoid grief, aggravating the guilt they feel because of the inattention to their children.
There are three subtypes of depression. The 1st subtype often occurs in 6-8-year-old children, with it, sadness, crying, helplessness, hopelessness, immersion in their experiences are observed. The 2nd subtype is typical for 8-12-year-old schoolchildren and manifests itself in low self-esteem, arrogance, fear of being used, in anticipation of failures and misfortunes. The 3rd subtype (in children over 10 years old) is less common and is characterized by excessive feelings of guilt, punishing self-esteem, self-flagellation, passive and active thoughts of self-harm.
Not only does the subtype change with age, but the number of symptoms also increases. In children, depression often manifests itself in fantasies (in dreams, drawings, spontaneous games), less often in verbal expression, and even less often in mood and behavior disorders.
Depression in schoolchildren 8-11 years old.
Psychosomatic symptoms: enuresis, sleep disturbances, mutism (refusal of speech communication), gastrointestinal disorders, “school headache”. More frequent are mental symptoms: anxiety, lethargy, self-isolation, irritability, insecurity, unwillingness to participate in the game, excessive feeling of responsibility, hypochondria, emotional instability, aggressiveness, fears, depression, suicidal thoughts and, less often, actions, thoughts of inferiority.
According to the frequency of occurrence of the manifestations of depression in children, they are arranged in the following order.
1. Loss of interest in emotional play and learning (66%).
2. Difficulties in mastering the school curriculum (51%).
3. Gastrointestinal symptoms (40%).
4. Fear of going to school, absenteeism (31%).
5. Enuresis (30%).
6. Behavior disorders (26%).
7. Sleep disorders (23%).
8. Disdainful attitude towards their appearance (21%).
9. Excessive taste for sweets (21%).
10. Leaving home (20%).
11. Headache (14%).
12. Encopresis (11%).
13. Thumb sucking (8%).
14. “Heart complaints” (2%).
Depression in older adolescents is more similar to depression in adults: headache, depression, inability to experience positive emotions, melancholy, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular disorders, bronchial asthma, neurodermatitis, loss of appetite or overeating, suicidal thoughts or intentions , insensibility, hypochondria.
Treatment of depression in children and adolescents
There are various treatments for depression, including medication and psychotherapy. Family therapy can be helpful if family conflicts are the cause of depression in the adolescent. The teenager also needs to feel supported by family or teachers to solve problems at school or with peers. Severe depression sometimes requires psychiatric hospitalization.
How to prevent depression in children?
1) properly organize the child’s day regimen, try to adhere to it constantly; pay special attention to how your child spends his leisure time (how much time he spends at the computer, walks, watches TV, communicates with friends, etc.);
2) try to understand what is the reason for your child’s bad mood (it may be a protracted conflict with significant people, an unresolved personal problem, overwork or chronic stress). In such a situation, it is necessary to reduce the influence of the main traumatic cause or try to change your own attitude towards the problem, reducing its significance;
3) physical activity and fresh air, raising the mood, will also help in the fight against depression;
4) take time for your child, tell him funny or instructive stories from your life, discuss family problems with him;
5) if, nevertheless, your child is prone to depression, despite your efforts, sign him up for group therapy with a psychologist, there it will be easier for him to be distracted, to learn self-understanding and successful interaction with others;
6) remember that a positive emotional environment contributes to the development of a child’s independence, self-confidence, general psychological development;
7) be attentive to your child, his problems, do not push him away from you, do not hide behind the lack of free time.