Understanding Depression

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Understanding depression for teenagers and children

Counselling from a professional psychologist helps in understanding depression and anxiety in a loved one. Depression is a serious disorder and can be caused by any number of things.

On average, 20 per cent of Australians will experience a depressive disorder at least once in their lifetime. It is common in children (even very young ones), teens and adults. Not to be confused with normal moodiness and unhappiness, feelings of depression last for weeks or months and generally are more severe.

Recognising and understanding depression is very important. It may be triggered by a life event such as a death of a loved one, or there may not be an apparent reason for it. The warning signs vary from person to person and may also vary in severity. Severe or clinical depression interferes with all areas in a person’s life including work, sleep, family, and social relations. This depression can include psychotic episodes and paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions.

Generally, a person is considered depressed if they experienced some of the signs of depression and feel sad, flat or uninterested in their usual daily activities for a period of two weeks or more. Some people are depressed for months, even years. Clinical Depression can severely affect both physical and mental health.

There are a number of ways to identify whether someone you care about is going through depressive disorder. These signs include withdrawn behaviour, moodiness, weight change, reckless behaviour and increased drug or alcohol use.

A person who is experiencing depressive disorder may present with: feelings of helplessness; loss of interest in daily activities; feelings of hopelessness; inability to feel pleasure; anger; irritability; appetite loss or increase; self-loathing; loss of energy; trouble sleeping; feelings of worthlessness; trouble concentrating and negative thought patterns.

Depression Symptoms

Symptoms may vary from person to person. Some may experience just a few symptoms while others may experience many. It is estimated that one out of every five people will experience depression during their. It has higher rates with women than with men. Sometimes the person might not know why they feel depressed and professional counselling can reveal the underlying thoughts or emotions that are the cause.

The severity of symptoms may also range from minor to very severe.

The common symptoms are:

  • Irregularly low mood
  • Constantly negative thoughts
  • Troubled sleeping patterns
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Loss or increase of appetite
  • Increased drug or alcohol consumption
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reckless behaviour
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you are dealing with this condition alone, talking to a psychologist can help. We have 4 clinics across Melbourne with supportive psychologists ready to help.

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Depression Signs in Children and Adolescents

It is often differently expressed from children to adults. What they have in common is that counselling from a professional psychologist helps.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of signs of depression in children and adolescents:

  • Mentions feeling hopeless or worthless.
  • Changes in behaviour like being: sad; irritable; withdrawn and unemotional; lacking in energy, and suddenly bored a lot of the time.
  • Have trouble concentrating, thinking, or making decisions.
  • No longer taking pleasure in things he or she used to enjoy.
  • Sudden loss of interest in friends.
  • Sudden weight loss or gain.
  • Over or under sleeping.
  • Think about death or suicide a lot.
  • They may complain of headaches or stomach aches.
  • A child may be more anxious or clingy with caregivers.
  • Some teens and children with severe depression can even hallucinate or have delusions.

It’s important to recognise the depression symptoms in children and yourself. Depression Symptoms in children might be a bad mood or negative feelings that have been present all the time.

Here is a list of the types of symptoms you might notice or they might be feeling and describe to you:

Behaviour changes you might notice:

Your child seems:

  • overwhelmed
  • irritable
  • frustrated
  • lacking in confidence
  • indecisive
  • disappointed
  • Your child is not going out anymore
  • Your child is withdrawing from close family
  • Your child gives up activities that they usually enjoy
  • Your child may be relying on alcohol and sedatives to unwind

Teachers may give feedback:

  • that your child is unable to concentrate
  • is not getting things done at work/school
  • is withdrawing from friends
  • is more uncommunicative

They may say they feel:

  • sad all the time
  • miserable
  • guilty
  • useless

They may feel or say they feel:

  • Their Life’s not worth living.
  • Nothing good ever happens to them and no one cares.
  • They’re at fault for unknown reasons.
  • They have failed or are a failure.
  • They are worthless or useless.
  • People would be better off without them around.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Lethargy
  • Run down
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pains or cramps
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Trouble with concentrating
  • Sleeping problems
  • Change of appetite
  • Weight gain or loss

It ranges from mild to severe and one who feels a bit unhappy most of the time for a year or more may have a milder, ongoing form of depression called dysthymia. In its most severe form, it can cause low esteem and make you feel hopeless with the feeling of no longer wanting to live.

It is treatable and talking to a fully trained psychologist is one of the best options. Help with depression can often start with a visit to a GP who can give them/you a test to help diagnose the problem more accurately. If they have depression they can get a referral to see one of our psychologists and begin the healing process.

How to Identify Depression Symptoms?

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from depression:

  • You can’t sleep or you sleep too much
  • You have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
  • You feel sick and run down
  • You can’t concentrate
  • You find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
  • You have lost interest in usually enjoyable activities
  • You don’t like going out anymore
  • You are consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behaviour
  • You don’t feel like being around your family and friends
  • You feel hopeless and/or helpless
  • You feel overwhelmed, guilty, unhappy, or miserable
  • You feel a lack of confidence
  • You are much more irritable, short-tempered or aggressive than usual
  • You can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
  • You have thoughts like “I’m a failure”, “It’s my fault”, “Nothing good ever happens to me”, or “I’m worthless”.
  • You have thoughts that life is not worth living right now or that people are better off without you

These signs and symptoms are a guideline rather than a diagnosis. It should be considered as an indication that you may be suffering from the depressive disorder. You should seek clinical advice from a registered health professional, such as a GP or psychologist, before reaching your own conclusion that you are depressed.

Saying yes to most or all of the above symptoms does not necessarily mean you are depressed. Likewise, you do not have to be experiencing all of the symptoms to be experiencing this mental disorder. If you believe you may be experiencing it, you should visit your GP or make an appointment to see a psychologist to determine whether you have it. Psychologists and GPs are trained to assess your situation and identify whether you meet a formal diagnosis of clinical depression or not.

Counselling from a professional psychologist, using cognitive behavioural therapy techniques has been proven to have a positive effect in curing this condition.

 

Depression Test

A depression test is a means of determining whether a person is depressed or just experiencing a temporary low mood. The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (also known as the K10 scale) is one of the most common test methods used by your GP to simply identify and measure levels of psychological distress. The K10 scale consists of 10 questions about a person’s emotional states each with a five-level response scale. For each question, a score is given depending on the answer on the five-level scale. The total tally indicates a person’s level of distress.

If your GP finds you are depressed then they will recommend putting in place a Mental Health Care Plan and refer you to a psychologist for counselling. You can request to see a Three Seas Psychologist at this point. They may also recommend anti-depression medication.

 

CALL TODAY AND MAKE AN APPOINTMENT AS THE FIRST STEP IN YOUR HEALING JOURNEY.

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