Children develop at a rapid pace. As such, ups and downs as well as mood changes are natural experiences as they mature. Just because a child seems sad does not necessarily mean he or she has Depression. If the sadness becomes persistent, or interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, or family life, it may indicate that he or she has a depressive illness. Keep in mind that while Depression is a serious illness, it is also a treatable one.Symptoms must be present most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with Depression. Some of these symptoms include:
- Severe Anxiety or worry
- Restlessness or feeling edge
- Constant fatigue
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Digestive problems without a clear physical cause
Not everyone who is depressed experiences all the symptoms associated with Depression. Even those children with only a few symptoms may benefit from treatment of their “subsyndromal” Depression. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the child. They may also depend on the stage of the illness.
IDCC has many licensed professionals who treat thousands of children or adolescents with Depression each year. Many of our clinicians have received specialized training in child psychiatry and some exclusively with children and adolescents. Thus, we understand the unique issues facing kids and teens, and how best to treat them.
Various types of psychotherapy including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy, family therapy, supportive psychotherapy, and group psychotherapy may be used initially, to treat youths with Depression. Such combined treatments, that use various approaches, increase the likelihood of not only mitigating depressive symptoms but also of improving self-esteem, coping skills, adaptive strategies, and family and peer relationships.
A number of research trials have shown the effectiveness of Depression medications in relieving the symptoms of childhood Depression. One study, by the National Institute of Mental Health, reviewed different approaches to treating adolescents and found that 71% of the adolescents who received combination treatment with a popular antidepressant and psychotherapy had fewer symptoms. Due to the severity of certain antidepressant medications, IDCC clinicians will many times start with conventional talk therapies and only prescribe such medications if deemed safe and necessary.