Depression occurs in people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, and ages. From the elderly to middle age, and young adults to teenagers, preschoolers, toddlers and even infants, all are potentially subject to developing depression. This risk increases when there is a family history of depression, and other medical, social, or environmental circumstances.
Symptoms of depression are similar across most of the age groups. However the difference is often in how the symptoms manifest themselves. In what follows, the symptoms of depression will be identified, as well as the manner in which the symptoms may be manifested in school-age children and adolescents.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- Loss of interest in activities that previously brought pleasure and enjoyment, such as play and school
- Feelings of sadness and depression
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping more than usual
- Feeling guilty
- Difficulty concentrating
- Greater than 5% of weight loss or weight gain
- Slowness in thinking and speech
- Difficulty making decisions
- Feeling worthless
- Suicidal thoughts
When symptoms continue for at least two weeks, this is an indication that professional help should be sought.
As mentioned previously, these symptoms can be manifested differently depending on the age of the person with depression.
Some examples of how depression may be manifested in school-age children and adolescents include:
Children who present with behaviors not normally characteristic of them, may be experiencing depression. For example, if a previously-happy child begins acting out, then this could be a sign of depression. This can especially be true in younger children. They do not yet have the ability to express their thoughts and feelings. Instead, they act out how they are feeling. They may act out by hitting others, being uncooperative, or showing rage, anger, or irritability.
Adolescents may begin acting out sexually, become promiscuous, and show no concern for their well-being.
Hypersensitivity to situations
Things that would not normally set off a particular child, may result in crying and/or avoidance of situations.
A child who previously got good grades, may begin performing poorly. As well, a change in not wanting to go to school can be another sign that something is amiss.
Younger children often manifest depression through physical signs such as diarrhea, headaches, and stomachaches.
In an attempt to numb their feelings, older children and teens may start using drugs and/or alcohol.
Giving away prized possessions
This is a dangerous and serious sign. If an older child is giving away things of great meaning to him/her, this can be an indication of severe depression with a plan to commit suicide. Seek professional help immediately.
In summary, symptoms of depression tend to be similar in all ages. But it is how those symptoms are manifested that can be different. Manifestations of symptoms are dependent on the age and life stage of the person with depression.