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Depression in Middle School Children

by Amy Morin

Depression in middle school children sometimes goes unrecognized and untreated. According to an article in the "American Family Physician," depression affects 2 percent of school-age children and the likelihood of developing depression increases once a child reaches puberty. Incidents of depression are about equal for middle school boys and girls until they reach puberty. Once they hit puberty, girls are twice as likely as boys to develop depression.

Symptoms of Childhood Depression

Just like adults with depression, many children with depression appear persistently sad. However, some kids appear more irritable than blue. According to the American Academy of Adolescent and Child Psychiatry, children with depression often complain of being bored and appear to have low energy. They also report frequent health issues such as headaches or stomach aches. Their eating and sleeping habits might change and they tend to show decreased desire to participate in leisure activities.

Risk Factors for Childhood Depression

Childhood depression has several risk factors. Children with a family history of mood disorders have an increased risk of developing depression. A child's environment can also be a risk factor. Living in a home with conflict, having a history of abuse or neglect, or experiencing the loss of a loved one increases a child's risk of developing depression. According to the American Family Physician, children with other mental health issues, such as anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, are more likely to become depressed.

Problems Associated with Childhood Depression

Depression causes many problems for middle school children. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depressed children tend to internalize their feelings, which can cause an increased risk of suicide. Depression also causes difficulty concentrating and a lack of motivation, which can interfere with a child's academic performance. It also can lead to increased absences from school. Many children with depression isolate themselves from their peers and their family, which can cause their depression to get even worse.

Treatment for Childhood Depression

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that early diagnosis and treatment are essential for children with depression. Treatment options include psychotherapy and medications. Cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy with a licensed mental health professional can reduce symptoms of depression. Antidepressant medication might also be an option and is sometimes used in conjunction with therapy. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that educating family members about childhood depression can also be an effective treatment intervention.

About the Author

Amy Morin has been writing about parenting, relationships, health and lifestyle issues since 2009. Her work appears in many print and online publications, including Mom.me and Global Post. Morin works as a clinical therapist and a college psychology instructor. Morin received her Master of Social Work from the University of New England.

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