Children are always thought to be happy and not depressed like adults. Moreover, depressive disorders are often confused with “adolescence crisis” and are delayed in diagnosis despite the risk of suicide. This delay brings with it the risk of suicide. In addition, the vast majority of children do not get the help (support) they need. In this case, depression in children will recur and their cognitive, emotional and social development will slow down.
Today, the existence of depression in children is an issue on which experts have reached a consensus. (16th World Congress of Neurology, Buenos Aires, 14-19 September 1997). This disease is not uncommon. It is seen in 3 out of every 1000 children in the preschool period (NAMI, 1998). The incidence between the ages of 7-11 is 2.5%, and the incidence in adolescents is 7-8%.
In France, suicide is the second leading cause of death for children aged 15-25 (after road accidents). Although suicide attempts are more common in girls, the mortality rate in boys is 10 times higher than in girls.
Child or adolescent depression should also suggest the presence of abuse, sexual abuse or violence.
As can be seen from the short summary above, depression in children is a really important issue. However, it is often not understood and confused with other situations.
What are the symptoms of depressive disorders in children?
1- Prolonged state of sadness, serious appearance or, on the contrary, excessive activity.
2- Lack of interest; He does not enjoy things that he used to enjoy at all.
3- The child, who used to like to play with his friends, now spends his time alone.
4- The child’s speech:
“I will go crazy”, “there is nothing to do”.
“I am nothing (self-devaluation)”, “I cannot (weakness)”.
“I am bad” , “my fault” (feeling of guilt).
“My family doesn’t love me (feeling of hopelessness)”, “nobody loves me”, sometimes thoughts of suicide and death.
“I can’t do it, it’s very difficult”, “I don’t understand anything”, “I don’t remember anything” (attention, concentration and memory disorders)
5- The state of distress, lack of energy.
6- Physical pains, eg; stomach or headache
7- Sleep disorders: Not wanting to go to bed, refusing to sleep, nightmares
8- Eating disorders
9- Excretory system disorders
10-School truancy and school failure
11-What the people around and the family say:
“Never dissatisfied”, “never agree”
“We can never please him (feeling of powerlessness felt by the family)”
12- Easily frustrated, fears, over-reactivity (such as violent tantrums)
Children who have a lot of problems at school or at home may be suffering from depression. During adolescence, there may be alcohol or drug use.
The items listed above may be seen in your child. Don’t panic right away. Observe your child. For a child to be diagnosed with depression, at least 5 of these symptoms must persist for at least 2 weeks.
Children cry when they are dissatisfied, scared, or feeling bad. Adults think that these feelings will pass by distracting the child, diverting his attention. However, the underlying problem does not disappear and children continue to need help in resolving their conflict (or confusion). They need someone who will listen to them and understand the situation they are in. Adults around the child have to be wary of unconventional attitudes in the child.