Clinical Psychologist

CHILD & ADOLESCENT DEPRESSION

 

Sally-Anne and her colleagues are passionate about preventing depression and anxiety in children and teens.  Much research suggests that around 4% of primary school children, and 8%-10% of adolescents suffer from depression.  An Australian national survey in 1997 found that around 14.5% of Australian children and adolescents have mental health issues (Sawyer, et al., 2000).  Those who have depression may be misdiagnosed as having ADD, ADHD or other developmental issues.  It is essential that they be assessed by an appropriate mental health specialist (eg. psychologist, psychiatrist, general practitioner, etc.).

 Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself:

I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today.

I can choose which it shall be.

  

Symptoms of depression in children and adolescents may include:

 

·         Feeling sad, crying, having a sense of hopelessness

·         Repeated emotional outbursts, shouting or complaining

·         Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyed

·         Irritable, bad temper, upset over minor things

·         Fearful, tense, stressed, anxious

·         Withdrawal from close family and friends

·         Difficulty concentrating

·         Poor school performance

·         Inability to sit still, constant fidgeting or pacing

·         Loss of energy and fatigue most days

·         Repeated physical (somatic) complaints without medical cause (headaches, stomach aches, aching arms or legs)

·         Significant increase or decrease in appetite

·         Altered sleep habits (either more or less sleep than usual)

   

Sawyer MG, Arney FM, Baghurst PA, Clark JJ, Graetz BW, Kosky RJ et al.  The Mental Health of Young People in Australia: The Child and Adolescent Component of the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 2000.

 

The greatest limitations you will ever face will be those you place on yourself  - Denis Waitley -

 

 


DEPRESSION AT VARIOUS AGES

 

According to Dr Carol E. Watkins (Northern County Psychiatric Associates, Baltimore), the following are characteristics of childhood depression:

Young children may show phobias, separation anxiety, physical complaints and behaviour problems.

 

Preschool to Primary School

  • Look serious or vaguely sick
  • Less bouncy or spontaneous
  • Become irritable or tearful without provocation
  • Say negative things about self
  • Be self-destructive

Primary to Secondary School

  • Academic decline
  • Disruptive behaviour
  • Problems with friends
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal talk
  • Parent may say that the adolescent hates self and everything else

Why might it look different in children?

  • Limited vocabulary
  • They are concrete and stimulus-bound
  • More dependent on and influenced by their family
  • Physically different from adults
  • Shorter attention span
  • Less psychologically sophisticated

 

You must begin to think of yourself as becoming the person you want to be

 

 

 

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