Biswarup Ghosh, PhD; Neucrad Health Hub India June 1, 2022
Nowadays, sometimes you might have observed your kids feeling irritated or throwing up a tantrum for no reason. Well, it is definitely an annoying experience; however, if you go deep into the matter, the underlying reason behind this increased sensitivity of children is not only a serious affair but also scary. Recent studies revealed that 1 out of every 6 kids in the United States gets detected with a mental, behavioural, or developmental disorder. The situation is similar in other countries as well, including India. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that 1 among 4 kids in the age group, thirteen to fifteen years suffer from some sort of mental depression. There are approximately 86 million children in South East Asia reporting behavioural issues at their teenage.
How violence and armed conflict affect children’s mental health?
The situation is worst in war-affected zones in Syria, Bosnia, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, and Rwanda. Children remain traumatised for life when they grow up in a violent environment. A research paper has identified that 23 to 70 per cent of kids in Palestine suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The figures are equally depressing in Rwanda (54 to 62 per cent), Iraq (10 to 30 per cent), and Israel (5 to 8 per cent). In such a gloomy situation, physicians and physiatrists all across the globe are doing their bit so that the school going kids get an opportunity of living a better life. They are prescribing treatments and medication along with counselling so that violence does not impact their future.
What are the common signs of childhood depression?
There are a few common symptoms of childhood depression; however, similar to adults, each depression patient is unique and needs to be dealt with individually. Usually, children manifest changes in appetite; they may either start overeating or do not feel like taking food at all. Some of them experience changes in sleep routine; you may find them staying awake at odd hours, reciprocally they may also struggle to wake up in the morning. Many kids feel sad, guilt, or worthlessness without any reason, find it challenging in concentrating on a subject, become overtly reactive, or may even show social withdrawal.
Children may also complain of physical discomforts like stomachache and headache, which does not respond to any medication or treatment. However, at this point, you must also remember that many kids do not show these signs but suffer silently. So, if you find your child irritated or in a bad mood for a long duration, do not pass it off as a regular emotional and psychological change. Deal with them patiently and take professional help whenever required.
What increases the chances of depression in kids?
Research has suggested that the chances of developing mental depression at a young age increase manifold if there is a family history of depression. In some cases, children coming from a chaotic family, or experiencing alcohol or drug abuse at teenage also show a higher chance of developing depression and anxiety.
How do doctors deal with depression in children?
Treatments for depression in children is similar to that of adolescents and adults; however, physicians need to be more caring and empathetic while dealing with patients of tender age. The first line of treatment involves psychotherapy or counseling. If it fails to provide satisfactory results, then psychiatrists can go ahead with medication. Usually, doctors prescribe antidepressants to minimise the symptoms of depression. However, the FDA has issued a warning against the use of antidepressant as it may lead to suicidal tendencies in kids.
Finally, we can say that violence and complexities in present society have led to anxiety and mental depression in children. In many cases, not getting enough time from parents or experiencing abuse from elders can act as catalysts. So, try to spend as much time as possible with kids and listen to their queries patiently before things go out of your hand.