Any one who has been through the teenage years or has been around older children and teenagers is well aware that anger, bad moods and general “angst” can be quite common during later childhood and adolescence. Although nowhere near as common as with teens and adults, younger children can also experience significant bouts of depression. Both the length of time and severity of the symptoms help to differentiate normal “bad moods” from depression.
Some of the most common symptoms of depression are having frequently depressed or irritable mood most the day, loss of interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities, significant weight loss or gain, a marked decrease or increase in appetite, sleep problems, extreme restlessness or sluggishness, noticeable fatigue or loss of energy, excessive feelings of worthlessness or guilt, noticeable problems with concentration, and recurrent thoughts of death and/or suicide.
Research shows that between 2 to 3% of younger children will experience depression at any give time. The problem of adolescent depression is more significant. Recent surveys reveal that in any 6-month period, about 14% of girls and 7.5% of boys between the ages of 12 and 17 will report symptoms severe enough to be diagnosed as depression. Of those who are depressed, some data indicates that well over 75% will experience suicidal ideations with 4 to 10% of boys and 10 to 20% of girls actually reporting a suicide attempt. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens. It is very important that all suicidal thoughts, particularly if the teen talks about a plan or actual intent to harm themselves, be taken very seriously. Although younger children are much less likely to engage in self-harm, expression of suicidal thoughts at any age is clearly cause for concern.
There is definitely hope for a large portion of children and adolescents who suffer from depression. Most who experience depression can be treated successfully with either psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both in more severe cases. Both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy approaches have been shown to be very effective in the treatment of depression.
At Silber Psychological Services our clinicians are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of depression in children and teenagers and have specific training in CBT. Treatment of childhood and adolescent depression can be very challenging but the positive results are worth the effort.