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Childhood and adolescent depression, how to identify symptoms and some useful advice

The Depressive Disorder

Depression is often seen as a disease that primarily affects adults, but there are also cases in childhood and / or adolescence.

The scientific community is debated on the real incidence of this disorder in the early developmental stages of the person: there are those who argue that there is a decidedly low incidence of depressive disorder in childhood, and those who instead see a higher frequency.

This second medical position puts its rationale on the fact that childhood depression cannot be evaluated with the same parameters as that of adults, as the depressive disorder, in the infant or adolescent, would be disguised by atypical aspects, or symptoms different from the norm. (which starts from the observation of the pathology in the adult).

In fact, if in the common imagination the depressed person is inactive, apathetic and immobile, the opposite may also be true in the boy, who instead expresses his malaise in other ways. In fact, to draw a line between the bipolar or depressive disorders of children and those of adulthood, the DSM V speaks of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, which often presents behavioral discontrol (non-aimed hyperactivity) and persistent irritability. and usually occurs before the age of 10 (often preceded by ADHD / ADHD, anxiety disorders or oppositional-defiant disorder)

How the child behaves in the classroom

In class or at home, children with disruptive mood dysregulation have mood alterations which, in addition to those already described (irritability and bizarre behaviors), can also be categorized into:

  • Melancholy
  • Self-devaluation and self-contempt

Some practical tips

First of all, it is good to keep in mind that a person suffering from depression tends to overestimate the stimuli that come from outside: this often leads him to have impulsive reactions and anger, which must be avoided or appeased by relating to them in a calm but decisive manner.

Furthermore, the depressed child has obvious frustrations with regard to both his academic achievement and, in general, his life: this is why, to them, constant gratifications must be countered by those around him.

It is also good to remember that the mind of a depressed person tends to have negative projections and often foreshadows the unfolding of events in an obsessively catastrophic way: he cannot imagine rosy epilogues in the future. Therefore, not only should this belief not be nurtured, but also to be fought, perhaps reassuring the pupil in question that everything will be fine and that, even if this were not the case, no consequence is irreparable.

Resizing the negative view that the depressed person has of reality is as important as keeping in mind that the clinical picture of depression does not include cognitive deficits, but only psychological vulnerability and obsession. An example, in this sense, is the tendency of the depressed boy to see everything in a dichotomous way: either black or white, in other words.

The shades of gray and the colors of life are banished from his brain, and thus induce him to enter a self-sustained negative spiral: the more depressed he is, the more he gets used to living and thinking in a depressive way.

It is necessary – obviously in concert with the doctors and psychologists, who give the main directives – to break this vicious circle and make it become a virtuous circle, carrying out a restructuring of the cognitive-affectivity-cognitive cycle.

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