Depression seems to be more apparent than it may have ever been. I do not have exact statistics with ages, gender, socioeconomic status and how depression has changed, but I do not think that it is necessary to go into that right now. At a time in any one person’s life, a person may or can experience depression. The severity of depression may be based on a number of factors such as: genetics, learned behavior patterns, environmental, family issues, individual perception of a situation and a person’s coping skills. These are the main ones that I particular see in my practice and in a hospital setting.
Sadness does not always lead to depression. When sadness is experienced, some people can address it and move forward. For others, it may be more difficult.
Some of the signs that will be listed can be for a child, a teen or an adult however in children and in teens identifying depression may be more challenging because a child or teen may not be able to fully put into words their emotions and the depression comes out through their behavior.
Depression: 5 or more of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2 week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure (DSM IV, Major Depressive Episode.
- Depressed Mood for most of the day or nearly every day
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities most of the day
- Significant weight loss or gain without change in diet
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (more sleep) nearly every day
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day : restlessness or being slowed down
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness nearly every day
- Recurrent thoughts of death, Suicidal thoughts without a plan or a suicidal attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide
That is the overall signs for when a person may be depressed and that is what therapists and psychiatrists look for.
Some other signs may not be that direct but can definitely be a concern: isolation from family and friends, despondent, lack of emotion or maybe too much emotion, negative self talk or muttering under the person’s breath on their self perception, irritableness, increased defensiveness, easily led to tears, just to name a few.
With children and teens, the challenging part may be the inability to communicate that they are depressed because at those ages, they are not able to actually put their feelings into words. In children and teens, looking at a change in their behaviors will be a clue if they are having depression. A teen will have peer related issues and may not want to be around family because peers are more important but if the teen isolates self from peers and family, other activities, does poorly in school and says, “I don’t care” then those would be the signs to be concerned about.
With children, it can be challenging because when children do not get their way, some will have a tantrum to get what they want. Other behaviors still may be similar to a teen’s like, irritableness, does not want to do things with the family, more emotional, more angry and may be even more tantrums but not just when they are told no.
What to do when there is change:
- Don’t panic. If there is a change in the person’s behavior or mood, it may not always be related to depression or go further into suicidal thoughts.
- If there are suicidal thoughts that are being expressed, try not to panic. I know it will be hard but panicking may not be beneficial to you or to your family member.
- If need be, take the person to the local hospital to be evaluated for a psychological evaluation. This evaluation does not mean that the person will be automatically be placed on a 72 hour hold for a psychiatric hospital. It is one avenue that may be pursued if necessary.
- If you are able to watch the person and help them to get through that particular place of depression, then great. It would also be great to call the number on your insurance card to find a therapist to help the person through the depression and learn healthier coping skills.
- If comfortable try to ask the person what is going on, listen to what they are saying.
- Validate their feelings. This would not be a time to tell them how they are feeling is wrong. It is how they feel.
- Show support and ask what they would like for you to do to help them. You do not have to take away their depression because depression is something that needs to be addressed and worked through.
- Call and make an appointment for the person, if a child or a teen, to see a therapist. For an adult, you can help them with the number for a therapist, but they will need to make that decision for themselves.
Depression can be worked through and a person does not have to be depressed for the rest of their lives. It may be difficult but when the person is motivated, has family support, learning healthier coping skills, and if needed, on antidepressants, then the person will work through the depression and become stronger.
Some information that has been helpful to parents can be located at:
- Google search: Depression in Kids/Teens, Symptoms of Depression, Medications for Depression, Treatment for Depression
Hope this information helps.
© Copyright 2011 by Kelly Sanders, MFT. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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