Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. It’s more than just a feeling of being “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days – the feelings do not go away. Symptoms can include:
- Loss of interest in activities
- Change in weight
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
- Energy loss
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
There are a variety of causes of depression, including genetic, environmental, psychological, and biochemical factors.
The symptoms of depression are essentially the same for children, adolescents and adults, such as sadness, loss of pleasure in activities, disturbances in sleep and appetite. Developmental stage in life does affect how depression will look at different ages. For example, younger children are more likely than adults to be irritable and to have large swings in emotions. Adolescents are especially likely to experience suicidal thoughts. Another difference is that depressed boys, especially during adolescence, can become aggressive during episodes of depression. Thus, it becomes very important to try to determine the source of problematic behavior.
While major life events like depression, death of a family member, or major health problems, can trigger depressive episodes in children just like in adults, recent research suggests that situations that most adults would not see as especially distressing can be very upsetting to children. Frequently occurring, relatively minor difficulties can seriously undermine a child’s sense of well-being.
Depression at any age is a very treatable condition. Individual psychotherapy with parental involvement has been found to be effective with many children and teens. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy have been extensively studied and have been found to be effective in treating depression. It is strongly recommended that parents be involved in the treatment of depressed children and teens, although the therapist is likely to spend much of the therapeutic time talking with the child alone. In addition, there are a variety of antidepressants that are available. When medication is used, it is recommended that it is a part of an overall plan of treatment, which would include individual and family therapy.
For additional resources on depression, please click on the following:
- Depression, from the National Institutes of Mental Health
- Depression, from the National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Understanding Depression, from KidsHealth.org
For more information on St. Louis, MO depression treatment therapy or to schedule an appointment at St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute, please contact us at (314) 289-9411 for our St. Louis City location and (636) 532-9188 for our Chesterfield location, you can also choose to complete our online inquiry form. We look forward to speaking with you.