Depression In Children and Teens

How common is depression in children and teens?

Just like it happens with adults, children and teens can also suffer from depression, and it the disorder is more common than what many people may think.  Sometimes people show signs of depression that come and go during their childhood and teen years, and it can continue into their adult life. 

Depression seems to be more common in adolescent girls than in adolescent boys, and the symptoms can be different depending not only on their age, but also gender, and even their culture.

A child or a teen who seems sad, irritable (“cranky”), starts having changes in their sleep, suddenly gaining or losing weight, being unusually tired or lacking concentration in school, may be showing signs of pediatric depression. Depression is a complex condition that can have many causes, and one of the main problems involve chemical changes in the brain.

Many concerned parents seek professional help when they notice their child is behaving strangely, and this is the right thing to do. Parents should never second-guess themselves when it comes to their child’s both physical and mental health.  

What are some symptoms of depression in children and teens?

Because of their young age, children and teens may not know how to communicate their feelings, especially when it comes to symptoms of depression, and they may not even know that something is wrong.  Although the diagnosis of depression requires a thorough evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional, some symptoms that often alert parents, caregivers or teachers that their child might suffer from depression are, but not limited to, the following:

  • Sadness or lack of concentration
  • Losing interest or joy in almost all activities, even in being with friends
  • Sleeping less or more than usual
  • Gaining or losing weight; eating more or less than usual
  • Thinking of suicide, that they don’t want to be alive, or thinking of death
  • Fidgeting, moving around a lot 
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of inappropriate guilt

Scientific studies show that in some cultures (for example, the Hispanic population) symptoms of depression may show as headaches, stomach pain, fatigue, hair and skin problems, instead of sadness or guilt. This has to do with the stress that children and teens often experience from having to balance two different cultures while adapting to their surroundings. A symptom should never be dismissed because it thought to be part of the child’s culture.

Are there lab tests for depression?

There are no lab tests that say can say if your child has depression, but it’s necessary to do some tests to make sure that the symptoms are not because there is something else going on.  Some of these tests may include blood and urine tests to look at their blood cells, electrolytes, and how well their kidneys and liver are working.  Also, if appropriate, we can look at some drugs that can show up in the urine.

Your integrative team at NovoTelehealth can also do tests to look at your child’s digestive health, since depression can be caused in part by an imbalance in gut bacteria (a condition known as SIBO), food intolerances, or in the way their body processes food and chemicals.

What treatment options are there?

It is common for children and teens with depression to be treated with medication known as antidepressants, but medication is not the only treatment available, and in fact, medication alone is not enough to treat depression. In mild-to-moderate cases, non-drug therapies are the first-line treatments; more severe cases may need medication. 

NovoTelehealth is composed of qualified healthcare providers who, besides being equipped to diagnose and recommend the most effective therapies, are a caring and compassionate group of people who will do a thorough evaluation of your child’s mental and physical health and will formulate a comprehensive, holistic treatment tailored to their individual needs, such as the type of depression, their age, how long they have been having symptoms, etc.  

Your integrative team at Novo goes above and beyond to not only address your child’s depression, but also support their health in the most effective, comprehensive and holistic way. Some treatment options include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Behavior modification
  • Medication
  • Naturopathic medicine
  • Diet modification
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Mindfulness techniques

To know more about depression in children and teens and how NovoTelehealth can support your child and your family in living a happier, healthier life, book an appointment with us online or at one of our locations.

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