Young children, like adults, can suffer from depression, a medical illness that can result in a range of emotional and physical problems. Because younger children may not be able to describe how they feel, it's important to be aware of the symptoms to look for in children that may be depressed. It's estimated that one out of every 33 children may be affected by depression. Symptoms of depression are unique from child to child, and may manifest differently at different times, but primarily involve persistent sadness, mood swings and a sense of hopelessness. Your child's sleeping habits may change as well. Children with depression often have trouble falling asleep at night, or problems getting up in the morning. A change in your child's eating patterns, such as eating significantly more OR less, may also be a sign of depression. Other signs that your child may be depressed are an obvious change in the ability to function normally at home or at school, a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed, worsening performance at school and a noticeable change in appearance or demeanor. Many children with depression may often complain of physical ailments as well, such as frequent headaches or stomachaches that don't respond to typical remedies. And, although it's not uncommon for young children to have temper tantrums, frequent outbursts of anger and crying may also be a sign of depression. Some children suffering from depression may often be sad and tearful. Yet others may become extremely aggressive and argumentative. Not long ago, it was believed young children didn't get depressed. We now know that depression in children is not uncommon. Parents who notice obvious changes in their child's behavior that last more than a few weeks should schedule a visit with their pediatrician. Untreated, depression can have lasting consequences for children that result in setbacks to a child's emotional growth, social life and ability to succeed at school. While there are no specific tests to show depression, a trained therapist can conduct a thorough clinical evaluation and suggest the best treatment options. Most childhood depression can be treated effectively. If you suspect your child is depressed, it's important to seek professional help as soon as possible.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012