Many people think that depression affects only adults. In fact, children and teenagers can be affected, too.
According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, 10% of children in Great Britain aged between five and 16 have a recognisable mental disorder, with 4% of children suffering from an emotional disorder such as anxiety or depression.
The problem for parents is that depression in children can be difficult to spot.
Depression warning signs
There are ways to tell the difference between normal ups and downs and the beginnings of a more serious emotional health problem.
The more obvious signs to look out for include unhappiness, a low mood and , tearfulness or irritability that may not be related to anything specific.
Also watch out for reactions when something sad happens. For instance, when someone dies it’s normal for everyone in the family to feel distressed. But if you feel your child’s reaction is too extreme or has gone on for too long, that could also be a sign of depression. If a young person is finding it difficult to function at school and seems to have lost interest in activities or friendships they were previously interested in, then that’s a major sign. So, too, is increasing social isolation. These are signs that low mood is causing significant impairment.
Counselling and family therapy can be extremely beneficial. All children and young people need to feel valued, respected and loved. They need to have relationships where they feel valued for who they are in an unconditional and positive way.