New Delhi: On the occasion of World Mental Health day, here’s an insight into the symptoms, causes and treatment of depression in teenage children.
Depression in childhood and adolescence is similar to adult major depressive disorder, though young sufferers may exhibit increased irritability or aggressive and self-destructive behaviour, rather than the all-encompassing sadness associated with adult forms of depression.
Speaking about the general causes of depression, Sreejita Ghosh, counseling psychologist at ePsyclinic.com explained that children and teens whose parents are suffering from depression are more likely to develop the same than the other kids.
Experts believe that both inherited traits (genetics) as well as living with a parent, who is depressed can cause depression. Depression in children and teens may be linked to stress, social problems and unresolved family conflict.
It can also be linked to traumatic events, such as violence, abuse or neglect. Certain thinking patterns and coping styles may make some children and teens more likely to develop depression.
Also, the children or teens having long-term or serious medical conditions, learning problems or behaviour problems are more likely to develop depression. Parental expectations and pressures may also be a reason for adolescent depression.
Ghosh further gives tips for parents to deal with their child’s depression. “Don’t freak out: this will surely not help your child. Depression can be successfully resolved with counselling and as long as he/she has supportive parents, the process becomes easier. Read up about depression, the symptoms cause and treatment,” she said.
Adding, “The more you know, especially about the treatment options, the more effectively you can advocate for your child in healthcare system.”
She emphasized that children tend to hide things from parents that they think will upset them. Make it clear to your child that nothing they could say is as upsetting to you as being unable to help them because they’re afraid to hurt you.
“Going through an episode of depression if already occurred is an opportunity for your child to learn how to cope with problems. And the more we can teach them to solve problems as they grow, the better they’ll be able to function successfully and manage life’s twists and turns when they become adults,” she said.
Citing an case study, Ghosh said, “Gina , a 13-year-old was brought to us at ePsyclinic with complaints of being sad and hopeless, crying spells and bouts of anger, school refusal, inattention in studies and lack of appetite.”
“From her parents, we got to know that Gina would not go to school. Every morning, her mother would face a tough time getting her out of bed and ready for school. She would cry, plead to her parents not to send her to school, and sometimes got irritable when her pleas were not met with. At home, she would stare at the TV screen blankly, not really watching anything. She would sit with her books but not study. There had been complaints from her school as well regarding her mindfulness and inattention,” she added.
During the sessions, initially Gina would not talk. As she gradually opened up, the experts got to know that they had relocated due to her father’s transfer.
The relocation, new school and environment had taken a toll on her adolescent mind. Assessment showed that she had moderate depression. Her parents felt that she was taking her time to adjust to her new school.
Gina, on the other hand felt that no one in new school liked her, and she refrained from opening up. Thus she felt alone, and a sense of inferiority grew inside her. Her parents asked her about her new friends every day and encouraged her to mix with other children, mostly she gave avoiding answers.