Signs of depression in school age kids & young adults

Center for Family Medicine Blog | Signs of Depression in Children

By now we have all heard of the Netflix movie 13 Reasons Why based on the book by the same name. We have also heard of many differing opinions as to whether or not your child should watch or read this story. What seems to be lacking is the underlying truth that kids and young adults suffer with mental health issues just as much as adults do, if not more. They are facing a pressure like no other. Below is a list of items to watch for when it comes to your child. 400,000 people commit suicide in the United States EACH DAY; let’s ensure that you’re child isn’t one of them.

1. The “Winter Blah’s” aren’t real.

Depression rates are actually LOWER in the winter season than they are in the spring. Perhaps it is the holiday spirit, the child excitement, the need for presents? Whatever the reason may be, pay attention to your child in the Spring. Studies have shown that the potential for suicide rates to be higher in spring is due to the fact that there is more natural light and perhaps more energy to actually go through with the act.

2. Watch their habits

Has your child quit their favorite hobby? Sport? After school activity? Chances are there is a good reason for this – and it is depression. One of the biggest signs of depression is a lack of interest in things that you once loved. If you notice that your child is losing interest in everything they once enjoyed, dig a little deeper. Sometimes all they need is for someone to notice and for someone to talk to.

3. Look for medications and items of harm

Teenagers commit suicide at a rate of 6.9 per 100,000. However, 1 in 10 high school students have said that they have considered suicide. That’s a scary number. Watch the medication flow in your home, keep items that can be overdosed on out of sight and mind. Keep an inventory of sharp objects (knives, razors, etc.)  

4. Read what they write

It’s ok to look at your child’s schoolwork. It’s ok to look at their writing. Most people think this is invasive but if a child is showing signs of depression then it is protection. Sometimes the easiest answer is right in front of our face all along as they write how they feel. Should you notice that your child is writing things that are worrisome, contact a therapist and have them express their feelings to someone unbiased.

5. Is there a family history of depression

Some mental health disorders are genetic and depression is one of them. If there is a family history with mental illness then a child is 11 times more likely to suffer from depression. Talk to your child beginning at a young age and teach them what to look for in themselves so that if they feel as if depression is a part of their life they are able to verbalize it to you and appropriate steps can be taken.

The most important thing you can do is simply WATCH your child. Often times we are so consumed with work, stress, etc that we do not notice what is right in front of us.

Children and young adults that suffer from depression will begin to look as if they are suffering from something. Their appearance will change (sometimes for the good, most times for the bad.) They don’t talk as much and they definitely don’t get as excited about things. They sleep more. They isolate themselves from friends and family.

If you see any of these signs contact a health professional right away to ensure that your child is getting the treatment they need before it’s too late.