Contrary to our belief, adults are not the only ones who have mood swings; children too can experience mood disorders. The most common mood disorder among children is depression, although their expression and feeling may not necessarily be similar as that of adults.
A child having mood swings may not be able to tell it in a normal way, instead he may complain of stomachache, body ache, or a headache unrelated to any significant pathological cause. Often mood disorder remains undiagnosed as the symptoms mimic normal emotional behavior. Keen observation and analysis is the key to recognize this disorder among children and teenagers, who else other than parent and caretakers can do so.
Decreased scholastic performance, ignoring to the advice of parents, crying easily without any substantial reason are the usual symptom of depression. Many times these children seem to be anxious and fearful. Most mood disorders are due to imbalance of chemicals in the brain that are triggered by environmental factors. Fortunately, mood swings in children is treatable. Realizing it early may prevent long term health issues.
Causes Of Mood Disorders In Children
The exact reason for mood disorder in children is difficult to know, but there are several things that can contribute it.
It can be triggered by a sad incident in a child’s life such as death of father or mother.A child observing constant conflicts between parents may feel depressed and dejected. Neglecting children by the parents or child abuse is also a major cause for mood disorders in children.
Many form of serious mood disorders in children run in family. It has something to do with an abnormality in the brain chemical which is responsible for regulating a child’s mood.
Extreme stress or traumatic event for which the child is not prepared at this tender age may consequently affect his body. Its repercussions can permanently affect his mind and body. He may pass into the phase of anxiety and depression for the rest of his life.
It has been found that at least 3 percent of children between the age of 5 and 17 pass through the depressive phase. The incidence increases as the child grows. During early childhood and preteen years the ratio between boys and girls remains the same. But the incidence of depression in girls is found to be more than boys who are in their teens. This may have hormonal influence.
Mood Disorder Symptoms In Children
A brief feeling of grief and depression after a traumatic event such as that of death of the loved one, or loss of a pet is normal and does not account for mood disorder. Children eventually find their own coping mechanism given time, support and love from the family members, friends and teachers. However, if the symptoms extend for a long period and interfere with their daily activity and school performance it’s a cause of concern. Here are some of the symptoms that may help you to recognize such mood disorder.
- Child frequently complains of physical problems such as stomachache, headache, without any obvious medical reason.
- Appearing somber all the time.
- Crying all the time without any real cause.
- Injuring self.
- Loss of appetite.
- Difficulty in concentration.
- Poor scholastic performance as compared to the past.
- Feeling of hopelessness.
- Aggressiveness and hostile attitude.
- Feeling guilty all the time.
- Loss of interest from little pleasures which most other children enjoy.
- Loss of interest from the surrounding and from daily activities.
- Feeling of hate.
Dealing With Mood Disorders In Children
It is important to keep stress and tension in a child within the limits of his tolerance. Physical and psychologically frightening factors should be kept to the minimum. Parents should ensure that the child feels emotionally secured all the time.
There are two approaches for treating a child having mood disorder. It may consist of behavioral therapy or drug therapy or both together. Usually, child counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy is the first line of treatment. It is aimed in changing the way of thinking and acting in a child which is responsible for mood changes. In most cases it is successful.
In severe cases of major depressive disorder, help of few anti-depressive drugs is taken by the physician. This drugs which belong to a group called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors help to uplift the mood of the child by acting on the brain chemicals responsible for mood disorders.