Child depression might be harder for an adult to catch on to. Depending on the age of the child, they may or may not be able to adequately communicate their child depression to others so they can get the help that they need. Younger children might manifest their depression as outbursts and irritability and will not even be aware that they are depressed. A parent might only discover that their child is suffering from depression when the child is in the hands of a psychologist and can properly analyze the behaviors the child is displaying. Children who are a little older might be able to tell their parents what is happening so they can get the help they need. Then, during the teen years, the depression that a teenager is feeling and the behaviors they display can be written off as normal teenage moodiness. Indeed, the behaviors of severe child depression or teen depression are not normal, nor are they like the symptoms an adult experiences during depression. Being aware of these symptoms and carefully watchng children who start to act out can make a difference in getting them the help they need.
First, it is important to not discount the intelligence and capacities of children or teenagers. Adults tend to think that because these individuals are smaller that they are exempt from comprehension of complicated things in life. This simply is not true, and intelligence has been proven as something that exists early in life through to elderly age. Children are just as intelligent and can be just as much of an emotional mess as any adult. The difference is mainly symptomatic, and in treatment options that can be used.
Child depression is classified in the DSM-IV with identical cirteria to that of adult depression. But the symptoms listed vary slightly. Most of the symptoms rest on outwardly exhibited behaviors that can be observed by adults. These include phobias, vague physical complaints, looking serious or acting overly serious, separation anxiety, behavior problems, and might even include hallucinations in advanced cases of depression. Psychiatry generally does not recognize delusions in young children as it is theorized that their cognitive functioning is not advanced enough for such happenings to occur. Depending on the age irritability, generalized anxiety or phobias, and erratic behavior all tend to be symptoms. Aggression can also be a problem at any age but is more prevalent in adolescent depression.
How a child is raised and the environment they are subjected to can play a role in child depression. However, parenting is not completely to blame. Stress from the environment that is uncontrollable [like the schooling environment] can add to the issue as can genetics. Children who have a family history of depression tend to be more likely to become depressed at a young age. Neglect, abuse, rejection, and conflict are strong factors in the environment that can be controlled and can contribute to depression. In addition to a family history of illness, there might also be a coexisting condition such as ADD, so parents should keep an eye out for other mood disorders too. Just being aware of the events happening in a child's life and spending time with them can go far in determining if depression is a problem. Spending time regularly with a child is just a good idea! They need adult influence in their lives.
It is not uncommon for a child or teen to be so depressed that they are considering suicide. They might even attempt and can be successful. It might be difficult for adults to fathom that "a sad child" might try to kill themselves in an adult way, but the danger is very real. Children who are identified as being possibly depressed should be watched for depression also and should be given the adequate treatment to prevent this from happenig as soon as the depression is recognized. Some medications for adults have been approved for use in children but generally there are not many treatment options available to treat child depression.