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Depression in children, sometimes referred to as paediatric depression, is a mental health condition characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities that the child once enjoyed. Recognise and address depression in children as early as possible to provide appropriate support and treatment.

Here are some potential signs of depression in children:

Persistent sadness or low mood: Your child may seem consistently sad, irritable, or unhappy for an extended period.

Loss of interest in activities: They may lose interest in things they used to enjoy, withdraw from social interactions, or stop participating in hobbies or sports they once loved.

Changes in sleep patterns: Depressed children may experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping more than usual.

Changes in appetite: Depression can cause a loss of appetite or overeating, leading to weight changes.

Fatigue and low energy: Your child may appear lethargic or lack the energy to engage in usual activities.

Difficulty concentrating: Depressed children may find it hard to focus on tasks, leading to a decline in school performance.

Feelings of worthlessness or guilt: They might express feelings of being useless, unworthy, or excessively guilty.

Frequent complaints of physical pain: Some children may express their emotional distress through physical complaints like headaches or stomach aches.

Read more about how to raise happy children

Increased irritability or anger: A depressed child might display increased irritability, aggression, or mood swings.

Social withdrawal: They may avoid social situations, prefer to be alone, or distance themselves from friends and family.

Self-harming behaviour: In severe cases, some children might engage in self-harm or express thoughts of suicide.

Remember, these signs can also be indicative of other issues, and not all children with depression will show all of these symptoms. Furthermore, some children may mask their feelings or struggle to express them openly.

If you suspect your child might be experiencing depression or any emotional difficulties, reach out to a mental health professional. They can conduct a thorough evaluation and provide appropriate support and treatment if necessary. Also, ensure that you maintain open communication with your child, expressing your love and support, and being there to listen to their concerns.

For more resources, visit the South African Depression and Anxiety Group