Symptoms of Depression in Children

Danielle Daniel, LCSW, PsyD student

Symptoms of Depression in Children

How do you know if your child is depressed? Between children, adolescents, adults, males and females, symptoms of depression manifest very differently so it is crucial to be sure you are reading the signs correctly.

Typically when we think of depression, we think of a sad mood, low energy and motivation for life and even terminal thinking. But in children, they do not express themselves in the same way as adolescents and adults, so how can you recognize when a child is depressed?

Depression in children usually manifests itself in the following behaviors:

Irritability, anger, withdrawal, highly sensitive, especially to situations where they are vulnerable to rejection, low energy and isolative behavior where they prefer to play alone and not interact with other children.  You may also see an fluctuation in appetite consistently, not just a picky eater, but a child who hardly has a desire to eat, or low motivation toward food.

You may also note sleep patterns are disrupted, they may tend to sleep more and nap where most children it is like fighting puppy dog to get them to settle down and take a nap.

Lastly, because they cannot express their emotions as well as teens or adults, you may have frequent outbursts and tantrums where they get easily frustrated and loose their composure.

One very important thing to be aware of is that stress can effect children for a time with these symptoms, and it may not mean they have a mental health diagnosis, but are coping through stress from school, friendships, family, and other environmental factors.

Processing these triggers before jumping to the conclusion of medication is very effective and recommended.

As far as mental health diagnosis, it is required that the behavior be present in more than one setting so for example if the child presents this way at school but not at home or vice versa, than the triggers from that environment would need to be discovered and addressed rather than again jumping to a mental health diagnosis and medication.

Naturally you can diffuse citrus essential oils that help to uplift mood and boost energy so that in the discovery process you can support the child to express their emotions properly and cope effectively with their developmental stages of life.

Essential oils are not a treatment for depression and should not be used in lieu of any medical advice. They simply naturally uplift a low mood and increase feelings of positivity.

My favorite mood boosting blend of essential oil is to combine equal parts of the oils Bergamot, Clary sage, Ginger, Melissa, and Wild Orange.

To learn more about essential oils and the brain, you can register for the free webinar here.

To learn more about depression in children, visit the Web MD website here.

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