Many people think of depression as an illness only adults suffer from; however, children and adolescents can also become depressed. In fact, the number of adolescents in the general population that suffer from depression at any given point in time has been steadily increasing, yet only about 30 percent of all children and adolescents get treatment. Family history of depression or other mood disorders and certain environmental factors can put a child or teen at higher risk for becoming depressed.
Children or teens who have attentional, learning, conduct or anxiety disorders are also at a higher risk for depression. An increase in screen time and stress is also thought to be a contributing factor to depression and isolation.
The behavior of depressed children and teenagers often differs from the behavior of depressed adults. Signs of depression in children and adolescents include:
- Increased irritability, anger or hostility
- Acting out or sudden behavioral issues
- Decreased interest in activities or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
- Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
- Persistent boredom; low energy
- Social isolation, poor communication
- Low self-esteem and guilt
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
- Difficulty with relationships
- Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-destructive behavior
While many parents are familiar with the moodiness that often comes hand in hand with adolescence, symptoms of depression are more severe and last longer. The earlier depression is detected and diagnosed, the better the treatment outcomes. Therefore, if you suspect signs of depression in your child or teen, discuss it with their doctor immediately, as they may need a referral to a behavioral health professional.
Cone Health Behavioral Health services has an extensive network of behavioral health professionals, specializing in children and adolescents. For more information or appointments, call (336) 349-4454.
Dr. Deborah Ross is a psychiatrist at Cone Health Behavioral Health in Reidsville. Dr. Ross received her Doctor of Medicine from The University of Minnesota in 1987. She completed her residency in adult psychiatry at Duke University in 1990, and a fellowship in child & adolescent psychiatry at UNC Hospitals in 1992.