You may be surprised to learn that depression rates are quite high in young children and teenagers. The literature estimates that approximately 15% of them have depressive symptoms of some kind. Depression occurs in both females and males, but it tends to be higher in females of adolescent age. It is a very serious concern that requires recognition and treatment as soon as possible.
So why do children and adolescents become depressed?
You may wonder what reasons kids would have to be depressed. There are many reasons, some of which may be inherited, and others that are environmental and internal. In what follows, are some causes of depression:
1. Genetic Predisposition
A family history of depression increases the chances of child and adolescent depression. This is related to genetic makeup and neurotransmitters found in the brain, something that cannot be controlled.
With the onset of puberty, adolescent depression also increases, as hormones wreak havoc on the teen’s body.
3. Social Pressures
Bullying and/or feelings of not fitting in with other children, creates increased stress and greater likelihood of depression.
4. School and Extracurricular Pressures
The need to excel, and to balance homework, extracurricular activities, hobbies, and jobs can take a toll on children and teens.
5. Family Conflicts
Home needs to be a safe place. Turmoil and uncertainty will create undue stress in children and teens. Examples of conflicts may include parents who fight with one another, or children and parents who do not get along. This can be a trigger for depression for children and teens living in that home.
6. Abuse (physical, verbal, psychological, or sexual)
This is related to the need for home to be safe. If children experience harsh forms of physical discipline, get yelled at all the time, are called stupid or made to feel like they can’t do anything right, then the likelihood of depression increases.
Sexual abuse is often hidden, and may be occurring inside or outside the home. In many cases, it is committed by a family member or close friend of the family. This type of abuse can also result in feelings of shame and depression.
7. Health Issues
Children and adolescents with other problems such as anxiety, substance abuse, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at increased risk of developing depression.
8. Gender or Sexual Orientation Issues
Transgender children may not be comfortable in their own skins, increasing feelings of isolation and depression. Likewise, adolescents who have homosexual feelings may feel confused, scared, and alone.
9. Learning Disabilities
Unidentified learning disabilities can result in a child feeling stupid, in comparison to classmates without learning disabilities.
10. Death or Loss
Death of a parent, friend, relative, or pet can trigger symptoms of depression.
As well, when parents divorce, it can create loss and sadness for young people. Some children may even blame themselves, and feel like they are the cause of the marriage breakdown.
Another type of loss involves breakups with girlfriends or boyfriends. This can be a trigger for depression in some at-risk youth.
In summary, many causes of depression exist for children and adolescents. It is very important for those closest to them to realize what can trigger depression, and to seek professional help as soon as possible if it is suspected.