Myths and Truths About Depression
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 10 percent of Americans suffer from some form of depression or major depressive disorder. In certain groups, major depressive disorder is either underreported or goes unnoticed. However, the severity of depression does not depend on race, gender, or age. In fact, childhood depression is one of the most frequently overlooked forms of depression in the United States.
The good news is that major depressive disorder is treatable. Counseling and medications are both effective options for people that need a little extra help. Most counseling plans require a handful of visits, and people can return to happy and healthy lives. Studies consistently show that children and adults with major depressive disorder get the best results with treatment plans that combine talk therapy and medication.
What Are the Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder in Adults and Children?
Contrary to popular belief, symptoms do not necessarily include feelings of sadness. Some of the most severe forms of major depressive disorder are characterized by extreme hopelessness. Other symptoms are difficult to miss in children. They include:
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Lack of appetite or eating too much
- Loss of interest in activities that the person used to enjoy
- Feeling guilty or worthless for no reason
- Unexplainable sadness
*It is important to note that symptoms do not always apply to people who have recently suffered a death-loss and are in the grieving process.
Unrelenting sadness, crying, and suicidal ideation are symptoms of major depressive disorder that are commonly associated with the illness. Additionally, loved ones might notice symptoms in others, as it is common for people who suffer from major depressive disorder to overlook what is really going on.
Does Depression Look Different in Children?
Children almost always display different symptoms than adults, and the symptoms look different as well. Young children typically lack the abilities to understand that feeling depressed frequently is not typical nor is not wanting to eat lunch. Adolescents also show different symptoms such as withdrawal from friends, lack of enthusiasm, and difficulty concentrating, among others. One of the best things parents can do to help their children is contact a mental health professional. It can be tricky to determine what typical teen grumpiness looks like and what illness looks like. Additionally, children and young adolescents often show symptoms for a few days instead of weeks.
A few signs parents can do to help keep an eye out for their children include:
- Take things children say seriously.
- Do not automatically believe that a child wants attention or is “acting out.”
- Do not assume that a child or teen will simply “get over it” or “snap out of it” in a few weeks.
In fact, younger people tend to only show symptoms for a few days at a time. The on-and-off nature of childhood and adolescent depression can be tricky to figure out. Reach out for help from a professional, and get real answers.
Possible Signs of Depression in Adolescents
Self-destructive behaviors such as cutting or mild substance abuse may or may not indicate clinical depression. It takes a strong understanding of child and adolescent development to pinpoint an accurate diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan. Children and adolescents often respond especially well to different therapeutic techniques, and trained counselors can quickly identify warning signs. Parents will have a chance to speak with counselors about confidentiality in therapy sessions with children. Parental involvement is an important part of the healing and treatment processes.
How Can You Get Help for Yourself or a Loved One?
Currently, there is no cure for major depressive disorder. However, there are numerous treatments that are highly effective, and it is important to find professional help as soon as possible. Professional counseling services are one of the best ways to properly diagnose major depressive disorder in adults and children. Professional counselors will help develop a plan to help people of all ages and backgrounds return to happy, healthy lives.