How to spot depression in very young children

Childhood depression is a lot like adult depression. When a child experiences a full blown depression as young as preschool age, it is not usually caused by the parent or environment, but a predisposition. Children with depressive episodes, also suffer from anxiety disorder. These types of disorders include separation anxiety where the child will get very real headaches, stomachaches, or diarrhea on school days. The pain comes from their brains not the bowels.

Children can also get social phobia and can become mute or be inhibited with generalized anxiety disorder. The signs to look for, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry are hopelessness, frequent sadness, and decreased interest in activities, extreme sensitivity, low self-esteem and guilt, thoughts of suicide or self-destructive disorder among many other signs.  

The Study

Depression in children is likely to be caused by three things: genetics, occurrences in one’s life, and what is going on in a person’s body.

Major things have to happen to a child to develop depression. Children with chronic problems like severe asthma, severe head injury, diabetes, epilepsy, and many of the less common chronic childhood diseases can result in depression. Neuropsychiatric illnesses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, tourettes, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and autism can lead to depression as well.

A child’s environment can factor into depression as well, circumstances such as abuse, chaos, neglect, and poverty can bring a stressful life for children and cause depression.

Television can also play a role, as it has been examined that children who watch six or more hours of television can exhibit behavior of depression, anxiety, and aggression. 

In teens, substance abuse is common and can lead to depression.

Lastly, genetics plays a huge role in depression in children. If one parent gets depression then the child is 40 percent more likely to get depression as well. The younger the parent was when they got depressed can result in a child getting depressed.  Also when mothers have been seriously depressed, the child is more likely to have severe depression which may result in hospitalization and even suicide.

New Concern

Earlier this year, a boy by the name of Gabriel Taye, hanged himself after being repeatedly bullied and assaulted in school. The boy was only 8 years old. Gabriel was the first youth to die from suicide in 2017.

Seven Hamilton county residents (where Gabriel and his family resided) 18 and younger have died in suicides so far this year. Footage showed Gabriel being kicked and pushed to the ground, later it was shown that kids walked over and ignored Gabriel’s seemingly unconscious body on the floor.

Police ruled the boy’s death a homicide.