Children, very young children, in fact, can suffer from depression. Sometimes the depression is triggered by a move or a parents divorce. Other times, it can come on unexpectedly — so much so, it’s often ignored or attirbuted to some other reason.
But depression in kids, even ones 3, 5, 7 years old, is serious. The earlier treatment is sought — whether it’s through medication or talk therapy or both — the more prepared a family can be for the onset of adolescence, when depression can lead to more dangerous behaviors.
Parenting magazine, via CNN, lists some signs of childhood depression. Your child may be depressed if he or she exhibits five or more of the following behaviors:
She’s bored, low on energy, and having trouble concentrating
He’s lost interest in once-loved activities
She’s easily aggravated and prone to throwing tantrums
He’s having problems at school, or is frequently absent
She’s complaining about headaches, stomachaches, or other physical pain
He’s eating less because food “doesn’t taste good,” or eating more, seemingly to try to soothe himself
She’s having trouble sleeping (or sleeping too much) nearly every day
He’s having difficulty in relationships
She’s voicing an unusual fascination with death
Parents who suspect their children are depressed should talk to the pediatrician first, though the author of the Parenting piece warns that some pediatricians are skeptical about depression in such young children.
Depression in children is more common than we might think and it can run in families. Depression is often masked by other childhood issues, such as ADHD or obsessive compulsive disorder. We’re used to depressed adults become sad and withdrawn, but depression in kids my show up in bouts of irritability.