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What is teenage depression?

Depression is a mental illness that affects many people of all ages and in varying degrees.  While we all undergo some times of sadness or feeling low, those that have depression are dealing with these feelings not only for an extended period of time but to a much more severe degree than just feeling sad.  Children are no different and can suffer from depression at anytime throughout childhood regardless of family structure and environment.

A child with depression may not understand what it is they are suffering from and more than likely will be unable to articulate it to adults around them.  It is our job as adults, whether parents, teachers, family members or friends, to recognise the warning signs and take action.

Some of the signs to look for in children are:

  • Low mood that extends for a period of time.  Not wanting to take part in activities they normally would enjoy etc.
  • Excessive tiredness and not wanting to get out of bed.  Far more intense than the normal childhood refusal to get up and go to school.
  • Sleeplessness.  A child who has a normal bedtime regime but suddenly becomes unable to sleep each night over an extended period of time.
  • Appetite.  Changes in appetite usually a decrease but can at times also be an increase in appetite or seeking comfort from food.
  • No longer getting enjoyment out of activities the previously enjoyed.
  • Ongoing change in their language, negative, talking about death.
  • Unable to see a positive future.
  • Drop in school grades
  • Low hygiene
  • Outbursts.  Uncontrollable fits of crying or rage that are not their normal character.
  • Withdrawing from their friends and family.

These are just some of the symptoms of depression in children but by no means are they all of them.  Depression in children is very serious as it is in adults and should not be left untreated.  If you suspect your child is suffering from depression it is important that you seek the help of your family doctor. 

Other avenues for seeking help with childhood depression:

  1. If you feel your child is at risk of self-harm and you are unable to calm them down then please call 000 immediately and seek medical assistance
  2. Community Health Centre in your area
  3. Lifeline – Phone 13 11 14.
  4. Beyond Blue – Phone 1300 22 46 36
  5. School guidance counsellor.
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