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Recognizing the symptoms of depression in children

What are the symptoms of a child suffering from depression

1. Dysphoric mood

The child is afflicted by one or all of the following symptoms at the same time : anxiety, irritability and sadness which may alternate and range in intensity from mild to severe. The child may change his/her emotional state from anxiety to irritability and then to sadness and viceversa in an ongoing vicious circle with negative consequences on his emotional and mental health, especially when these symptoms co-exist with a mental disorder such as anxiety disorder.

2. Self-deprecation

This refers to the tendency of the child to undervalue himself/herself and it is generally triggered by negative experiences from an early age, a constant feeling of insecurity and even fear of inadequacy. In this case, the child s misconceptions which have led to the self-perception of being fundamentally inadequate in the family and social environment are caused by self-inflicted degradation triggered by fictitious flaws of himself/herself, to the point of identifying with inadequacy or inappropriateness in society.

3. Sleep disorders

These include either insomnia, the inability to sleep or hypersomnia ( excess sleep) and especially excessive daytime sleepiness which has been exhibited for at least three months prior to diagnosis.

4. The prevalence of somatic pain ( or musculoskeletal pain)

As opposed to visceral pain which comes from the internal organs ( stomach aches, irritable bowel syndrome, cystitis), somatic pain arises from the epidermis and deep tissues. Thus, the child may complain from constant headaches, pelvic, joint or back pain.

5. Unusual or negative sudden changes in their school performances due to poor concentration or even or lack of concentration, and to lack of motivation or interest in various favorite school activities which used to be pleasant for them.

6. Low levels of energy throughout the day, persistent boredom and reduced socialization with his/her peers ( the child is apathic, shows no interest in interacting with his/her schoolmates and friends and does not feel like doing anything ).

7. Changes in the child s eating habits or patterns, unusual change in appetite and either losing or gaining weight.

It is also highly important that parents learn to differentiate a depressive episode in children from a depressive disorder.

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