Childhood depression warning signs


Childhood depression: the warning signs

Depression does not only affect adults. Intense sadness, irritability, malaise… Childhood depression affects approximately 3% of children aged between 3 and 17 years old. Psychologists and psychiatrists inform you about the signs that should alert you.

Childhood depression warning signs


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What is childhood depression?

Depression is a long-lasting mental health disorder. In the same way as that felt by the adult, it considerably slows down the psychic balance of the child and the teenager and generates a deep despair, a withdrawal into oneself and a devaluation coupled with a certain malaise. Childhood depression or adolescent depression most often appears around the age of 10/12 years. However, it can manifest in early childhood and affect young children.


What are the signs of depression in children?

The signs of depression in children and adolescents are multiple. They cause deep sadness and exacerbated discomfort over a lasting period.


However, some symptoms can alert parents:


mood swings (irritability, aggressiveness);

overflowing excitement;

a tendency to isolation;

loss of interest in gambling or in activities that he usually enjoys doing;

sudden difficulties at school;

an appetite disorder (TCA, bulimia, anorexia, etc.);

sleep disturbances;

headaches and abdominal pain;

a loss of self-esteem.

In adolescents, depression manifests itself in similar symptoms to which can be added:


provocative and risky behaviors such as delinquency;


addictions (drugs, alcohol, etc.);

tendencies towards self-harm;

suicide attempts.

What are the causes of childhood depression?

The causes of childhood depression can be difficult to identify but different factors can be involved:


The genetic background, in particular if one of the parents of the child suffers or has suffered from mental health disorders (depression, bipolarity);

A biological imbalance hindering the proper functioning of the child's brain;

A temperament, such as hypersensitivity, high intellectual potential, attention deficit disorder or autism spectrum disorder;

A health problem, especially if the child lives with a chronic pathology or a disease requiring long-term treatment;

The family environment, such as abuse, living conditions, rejection or neglect;

Stress, anxiety and psychological exhaustion, especially if the child is bullied at school by his classmates or if he considers himself to be different from them (sexual orientation, activities practised, etc.) and this leads to rejection or intimidation from society and peers;

An environmental change, such as a death in the entourage, a move or a separation.

What are the risks of depression for a child?

A depressive episode in childhood may repeat itself in adolescence or adulthood. It is therefore important to take charge of the latter from an early age in order to prevent this condition from recurring or persisting in the future. Depression in children affects their reasoning as well as their mood and behavior. In some children, it can cause physical symptoms in addition to psychological signs. The depressed adolescent, on the contrary to the young child, has a greater risk of hurting himself physically by inflicting mutilation and/or acting out by contemplating suicide in order to put an end to his suffering.


When should you worry about it?

If your child or adolescent shows symptoms of childhood depression, listen to their feelings so that they do not sink further into their unhappiness. Open the debate if he is inclined to discussion and prove to him that he can confide without fear. Be empathetic and take care of his lifestyle, especially on the intake of meals and the quality of his sleep. You can also offer him relaxation exercises to soothe his ailments.


If the symptoms persist don't wait and get help from a mental health professional. A child psychiatrist, a general practitioner or psychologist could help him by providing him with the keys that will be necessary for him to get out of this state.