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Childhood depression

Published:Tuesday | March 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMJody-Anne Lawrence

While its easy to see how adults can become depressed with all the complexities of life, our seemingly carefree little ones are also at risk of becoming depressed.

According to Child Psychologist Gemma Gibbon, depression in children ages seven to 13 years old, is hard to detect depression, especially in boys since their behaviour is different from that of an adult male.

He explained that boys tend to be constantly angry and aggressive when they are going through depression. Though still difficult to detect in girls, it is easier than boys, as girls react a bit more like adult women. Gibbon notes that they tend to be withdrawn and in extreme cases, self harm. Girls tend to try to take charge of the things that they can control like their eating habits.


Why would make a child depressed?

There are a few factors that directly affect children that may lead to depression says Gibbon. Some of these include bullying at home and or at school, low self esteem, poverty and malnutrition. There is also the factor of losing a parent.

Gibbon notes that outside of these factors, depression will rarely appear in children and is usually due to a behavioural disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiance disorder (ODD) or autism and autism related illnesses. There are a few cases of bipolar disorder as well.


What to do

Parents should try to pay attention to their children's behaviour so that they can notice these subtle changes. Dr Gibbon advises that parents: maintain a very close relationship with them; be an outlet for them to speak to when they are going through their changes; do things with them to help develop and build their self esteem as well as making them know that you are there for them.

Gibbon advises parents to try speaking to them before taking them to counselling. She notes that children like adults do go through their fair share of ups and downs when it come to their emotions.