Depression in a child aged 10-17 years is expressed a little differently than in adults. The parent needs to know how to suspect this ailment. On their own, adolescents rarely talk about their depression, usually they are not able to recognize it or are not sure that they will meet the understanding of their parents. Nevertheless, the state of depression, apathy, aggression may indicate precisely the presence of depression. The task of parents in time to track an alarming symptom and consult a specialist.
In this article, we will talk about the causes of depression in a child, how to determine it, and methods of treatment. Timely work with a problem can prevent its development and find effective solutions
DEPRESSION IN A CHILD (TEENAGER) – WHAT IS IT?
The word “depression” comes from the Latin deprimo – “crush”, “crush”. Depression in a child (adolescent) is characterized by a depressed or reduced mood, unwillingness to enjoy, pessimism, sleep disturbance, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.
Children in the period of 10-17 years experience various emotional upheavals: a quarrel with a close friend, conflicts in the family, poor performance at school, failures with the opposite sex. In addition, many are dissatisfied with their appearance (acne or “unfashionable” clothing, an appearance that does not meet “beauty standards”), which also negatively affects the psychological situation.
The situation is aggravated by hormonal changes in the body: for some children they pass without a trace, and for some teenagers it is another storm of emotions that needs to be overcome.
SIGNS OF CHILD DEPRESSION:
In the bustle of working days, parents do not always have time to fully communicate with children. But you can notice a negative attitude in a short period of time. Pay attention to the following symptoms:
· Decreased interest in your favorite activities (to study or a hobby)
Sleep disturbance (for example, in the evening cannot fall asleep for a long time or wakes up several times a night)
· Weight change (gaining extra pounds or losing weight)
Interruptions in appetite, prolonged refusal of food
Guilt or shame
· Absent-mindedness, cannot focus on a specific task
Unwillingness to communicate with anyone
Thoughts of suicide
During the day, symptoms may not appear immediately, but gradually: a teenager wakes up in a good mood, has breakfast, and is going to school with pleasure. Faced with difficulties in the classroom or communicating with peers, he begins to fill himself with negative emotions. Often there is a loop on their experiences, self-closure; may come home, sit still, look at one point, refuse food. At such moments, teens often complain about others, criticize any situation, notice only the negative side, not seeing positive notes.
A thought settles in my head (I’m ugly / fat / boring / I have no friends / nobody loves me / I don’t need anyone) that accompanies him throughout his depressed state. Constantly thinking about it, he cannot fall asleep calmly, which leads to sleep disturbance.
Depression in children is accompanied by a sudden surge of good mood – the child rejoices, jokes, communicates. But an hour later sits tired, sad, displeased.
REASONS FOR DEPRESSION IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS:
Depression in a child never occurs from scratch. There are always prerequisites for such a condition. Most likely, the teenager was faced with a stressful situation, and because of his age, he could not correctly accept and survive it. And this is quite enough for the fragile children’s psyche.
The main reasons include:
1. Hormonal changes – the process is “stormy” and lengthy. Maturation of the reproductive system is accompanied by high emotional stress: irritation, longing, or increased anxiety. As a rule, this period passes through 2-4 years. During this time, the accumulated stress can easily develop into a serious disorder.
2. The realities of the adult world – an understanding comes that the world that he saw with his children’s eyes is not so kind and cloudless, but full of cruelty and injustice.
3. Youthful maximalism – a teenager thinks that he is being ignored, not seen and not noticed. Everything is divided into black and white, bad and good. Against this background, conflicts arise with parents and teachers.
4. Family conflicts – children sharply react to quarrels between parents, have a hard time surviving a divorce or difficult financial situation. It is difficult if he constantly hears criticism of his address or the discontent of his parents associated with poor performance at school.
5. Lack of friends. The most important thing for a teenager is communication with peers, the communication environment, the ability to share common interests with friends. In adolescence, emotional emancipation from parents occurs: if previously the child shared his experiences with parents, now he can close, not talk about the events of the day and his experiences. In general, this is normal for a teenager, but it is important to find a place where such an exchange of emotions will occur. Emotional contact
a teenager is looking with peers, and if it was not possible to find such a contact, there was no acceptance in the team, establishing friendships – for a teenager it is very painful and traumatic. He feels unnecessary, unsuccessful.
6. “Imperfect” appearance – adolescents tend to worry that they do not look like everyone else, are overweight (in his opinion), or skin problems have turned the whole world against them. Failure to comply with the notorious “beauty standards” or standards adopted in a particular team (for example, be sure to be athletic or wear branded clothing) can result in mockery in the team for a teenager, low self-esteem, anorexia and, ultimately, depression.
7. Frequent moves – separation from the existing team and its usual comfort zone is unsettled. Arriving at a new place, the teenager faces difficulties in communicating and creating new connections, which of course affects his condition.
8. Bullying at school – adolescents often show unjustified cruelty, which leaves its mark on the psyche.
9. Dependence on the Internet and computer games – in the virtual world, being successful is easy and simple, in the real world – it is much more difficult.
10. Reinforced loads – some children have a hard time at school. And many parents insist on attending additional classes and circles, believing that this is only beneficial. Such a rhythm of life creates an additional stressful situation, which not everyone can do.
11. Unrequited love or the first unsuccessful sexual experience – experiences in this state take a lot of energy, and to share experiences and get support is often not with anyone and nowhere.
SOME SIGNS OF POTENTIAL DEPRESSION AT A TEENAGER:
A sense of emptiness and meaninglessness – a teenager can study well, lead a normal lifestyle, but at the same time feel empty. There is no understanding of what he lives for; everything seems to him monotonous and not interesting.
“I do not want anything”. Lack of interests, lack of desire to communicate, make friends, apathy.
“Nobody needs me” – the feeling of being useless to anyone becomes a slave. Having come under the influence of a stronger companion, the disorder only intensifies.
Emotional swings. Sudden changes in mood, lingering bad mood can be replaced by fits of rage and aggression, and then passivity and self-abasement.
Talk about death and suicide. If a teenager became interested in the topic of death and suicide, it is important to pay attention to it in time. A teenager can use phrases such as “there is no need to live,” “we’ll die all the same,” “I don’t see the point …”.
Meaningless actions, fixation – going in cycles in a useless lesson, for example, staying on social networks (regularly updating the “feed”, waiting for new meaningless information).
Sudden changes – a teenager dramatically changes his social behavior, changes his appearance (dye his hair, piercing). Changes may relate to lifestyle, interests, social circle and worldview.
“Always successful” – these are children who “climb out of the blue” to achieve positive results, to achieve success. But behind the screen of a “successful teenager” is a child who hides his true experiences. Often, such achievements do not bring moral satisfaction and are accompanied by a strong fear of disappointing parents.
Each individual item may not be a mandatory sign of depression, but the totality of the sign and / or pronounced manifestations may be cause for concern and contact a specialist.
TYPES OF DEPRESSION:
Reactive – considered a benign type of disorder. This condition is typical for adolescents who have experienced a strong emotional shock. For example: the divorce of parents or the death of a loved one.
Melancholic – a state of oppression and longing is characteristic, interest in everything is lost, often sits in his room in one position or moves slowly (lethargy). Against the background of these symptoms, sleep and appetite disorders develop. For girls, a failure in the menstrual cycle is characteristic. Suicidal thoughts may be added to prolonged melancholy.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by a rapid phase change, sometimes at short intervals. The smaller the age, the shorter the phases and can range from several hours to 2-3 weeks. Mania manifests itself in the form of aggression and anger. Psychologists may not notice bipolar disorder, referring to “adolescent character change”, therefore it is recommended that a specialist with a narrower profile (clinical psychologist, psychiatrist) is recommended.
Dysthymia is a long-term mental disorder that usually lasts for a year, possibly several years. The child looks passive and lonely, can not concentrate on a specific task. May be accompanied by sleep disturbance and loss of appetite. This disease often flows into a chronic form, occasionally interrupted by a change in mood.
Severe (major) depression – is protracted. It lasts from six months to 9 months. The teenager is sad and irritable, he is not interested in anything. Symptoms may not be apparent, such as sleep disturbance: the parent refers to fatigue and congestion. Some children begin to “seize” this condition in large portions of food. This moment should alert. The situation is aggravated by thoughts, in some cases by suicide attempts.
Particular attention should be paid if you increasingly hear references to death and suicide, for example:
1. Reads verses and stories about suicide, or began to write on this subject himself
2. Romanticizes death and the most dying.
3. Jokes about death
4. Farewell to relatives and friends as if for the last time
5. Frequent injuries and cuts
6. Hear the phrases: “I wish I died”, or “Why was I born?” or “There is no way out”
In this case, you must act immediately, and as soon as possible find a specialist to provide assistance.
WHAT TO DO TO PARENTS?
The family atmosphere is very important for the formation of the children’s psyche. Parents will always pay attention to the non-standard behavior of the child. But what exactly needs to be done if problems with school or school friends begin?
If you find signs of depression, then experts advise the following:
· Talk in a comfortable environment. Try to find out what exactly caused the concern and such a result.
· Help strengthen his self-esteem. Show him how important and significant he is to you and others.
· Find out about his hobbies, what he is interested in, what he does while you are at work.
· Limit custody, make you feel that you trust him.
· Give the right to choose, it’s not worth everything to decide for it.
· Try not to criticize, but direct to the correct action.
· Avoid high-pitched conversations, try not to conflict.
· Find a common interest – it can be a joint evening walk or cycling, or playing soccer. Attend master classes: draw and create.
Psychologists advise finding as many common ground as possible. It is important for the child to feel support and care. But do not forget that increased custody will only harm and complicate the situation.
Always sincerely say that you love him, appreciate and respect him. Warm and trusting relationships in the family are the key to the good mental health of all its members.
If you understand that the situation is beyond your control, do not delay with going to a specialist.