Children with learning disabilities are prone
to chronic depression. Older adolescents and adults tend to become
withdrawn. They may be quiet or become agitated, irritable, and
angry; they may also look sad and talk about their sadness. Young
children, on the other hand, tend to exhibit non-verbal clues and
express their emotional struggles more by their behavior than by
talking. A major depression typically lasts several weeks and may
be intense. Mild chronic depression (dysthymia) may last for an
extended period of time and frequently appears to be an aspect of
a child's usual moods and personality.
Signs that may indicate depression in children:
- Change in personality, such as increased anger, irritability,
moodiness, or whining;
- Change in appetite, usually a loss of appetite;
- Change in sleep patterns, such as difficulty failing asleep,
staying asleep, or excessive sleeping;
- Loss of energy, or lethargy;
- Loss of interest in friends, play, activities, and sports. Or
an absence of pleasure derived from relationships;
- Low self-esteem, frequently expressed through self-deprecating
and negative talk;
- Difficulty with concentration (not to be confused with attention
- Feelings of helplessness, occasionally expressed through suicidal
Causes and contributors to depression:
- Genetic or biochemical predisposition;
- Real or imagined experiences of loss;
- Excessive physical and emotional stress;
- Lack of success in school, with the family, and/or in making
and keeping friends.
Depression is a complicated condition.
Nevertheless, some negative effects of depression are:
- Interference with academic, family, and social functioning;
- Loss of interest in school, which typically results in declining
- Loss of interest in friends, and withdrawal;
- Physical complaints, such as headaches and stomachaches;
- Increased anxiety, fears, or phobias; increased irritability
and anger; and
- Conflicts with parents and siblings.
What parents can do:
- Be aware of clues and indicators of depression. Parents should
trust their intuition about their children's behavior, especially
where a family history of depression is present.
- Parents may want to give serious consideration to the suggestions
of others that their son or daughter may be experiencing depression.
- If parents suspect depression in a child, they may want to discuss
their concerns with teachers and school counselors. This may ease
their concerns if teachers do not observe similar behaviors, or
it may confirm their concerns if teachers are aware of behavior
that may indicate depression.
- Parents should talk with their family physician. The family's
physician may want to meet with the child to confirm a diagnosis
or may refer the child to a child or adolescent psychiatrist or
other mental health professional for diagnosis.
- Once a diagnosis of depression has been made, parents should
seek professional help for their child(ren). Many different types
of therapy are available, some of them designed to address specific
thought and behavior patterns. These therapies, and others, include:
behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, family
therapy, movement/art/music therapy, group therapy, and medication.
Early Childhood Committee-Education
LDA of America