Child depression, what it is and symptoms | Diseases and conditions.

Child depression

Depression is a disorder of mood which affects both to children and to adults; It is highly disabling and courses with a high level of discomfort in both cases. However, if we take into account the lack of emotional maturity and lack of resources to manage their own emotions, understand that in the case of the smaller this disorder may be highly interfering in its development.
The prevalence of childhood depression is similar to the depression in adults. In this sense, the World Health Organization estimates that 3% of the child population suffers from depression, which represents between 10 and 15% of the queries of child psychiatry according to different authors.

Diagnostic criteria of child depression

Child depression presents the same diagnostic criteria as those of the adult population, although, as we shall see later, there are differences in terms of its expression. The diagnosis of child depression according to ICD-10 uses the following criteria:
• The duration of the depressive episode must be a minimum of two weeks and not related to the consumption of any substance.
• Presence of two of the following symptoms:
or depressive mood: children and adolescents, may have a depressed or irritable mood State. Children, moreover, are often not able to describe how they feel and often complain of vague physical discomforts, and show a sad facial expression or a little visual communication. The irritable mood may manifest with an aggressive behavior or actions that show hostility or anger. In older adolescents mood disorders may have symptoms similar to adults.
or loss of interest towards the environment, or inability to enjoy the game or school activities.
or lack of energy: does not play, refuses to go to school, at home he is discouraged, not speaks, etc.
• Presence of one or more of the following symptoms:
or loss of confidence and self-esteem, and feelings of inferiority.
or blame: in children is reflected by an auto-desvalorizacion or a sense of guilt, excessive or inappropriate.
or Ideas or autolytic attempts (self-destructive): in children and adolescents there are nonverbal signs of suicidal behavior as actions in which risks repeatedly, - sometimes as if it were a game--, or adopt autolesivos behaviours (e.g. scratches).
or inability to concentrate or make decisions, which translates into a low academic performance or conduct problems in the case of children.
or activity psychomotor agitated or inhibited.
or sleep disturbances.
or changes in weight (in children usually an increase occurs).
• Somatic complaints (headache, gut, etc). This approach is very common in children.

Causes and consequences of childhood depression

There is an interaction of various variables, both biological and social, that are present in the emergence of child depression. However, it is required the existence of a personal, familial and environmental vulnerability that will facilitate the development of the disorder.
Among the main causes of childhood depression is the fact that the child does not feel loved by his family and this generalizes it to others. In some cases this feeling responds to a feeling real (for example, parents expressed that it does not meet your expectations), while in others is not, while the small so understand it.
But the child depression may also respond to other reasons, such as:
• Be subject to an excessively strict educational style.
• The loss of some of the parents - by death or divorce-.
• Parents very perfectionist.
• Physical problems.
• Difficulties in interaction with other children or aggressive behaviors of these to them (for example bullying).
On the other hand, the explanations given by the child to what happens are fundamental when we talk about the determinants of this disorder. So for example, a child who believes that what happens depends not on it goes into a loop of defencelessness which is likely to lead him to the sadness and hopelessness.
As you might imagine, the consequences of depression will not be expected. The impact of symptoms of depression will be appreciated immediately in the school area due to the poor academic performance of the affected. On the other hand, social and family relationships of the small ones will be altered by his emotional instability and its possible tendency to isolation. All this leads to a delay in the intellectual and social development of the child.

Treatment of childhood depression

As in the case of adult depression, childhood depression treatment must be individualized, adapting it to the child and its stage of development, and taking into account their cognitive function, emotional maturation and its ability to maintain attention. It will be essential to treatment involving parents, intervening in the surroundings of the child (family, social and school).
The treatment of childhood depression may be only of a psychological nature, or combined with drugs prescribed by the doctor. From the psychotherapeutic point of view include cognitive-behavioral techniques that helps you detect and modify their distortions about how it interprets certain events (for example, how can understand a criticism of his parents or his friends, how to judge his behavior, etc). Level behavior should be taught to properly handle their emotions (for example, how to say that not in place to cede to all what your friends want).
These techniques directly applied with the small must accompany other therapies of more dynamic and systemic order that will help to identify the pathological interaction patterns, and possible family conflicts which designate the child as a patient.

Tips for parents with children with childhood depression

At home, it is very important that parents show an unconditional affection toward his son, and respect to their preferences and interests, aside from rigid and authoritarian educational styles that disregard the feelings of children.
The family environment should favour adequate emotional expression, in order to enable the children they communication emotions. So parents should talk to their children their own feelings and ask them how they feel.
Parents, in addition, never should grow tired of telling their children how much want them, and at the same time it is good to provide them play with other kids and to encourage their social relationships with their same age groups.
Finally, we'd like to point out a resource of information support for parents of children who suffer depression child, published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), which is published (in English) on their website.
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