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Behavioural / Mental Health conditions

Major Depressive Disorders

What is Major Depressive Disorder?

Sadness is a natural part of the human experience, and these feelings are normally short-lived. When children experience persistent and intense feelings of sadness for extended periods of time, then they may have a mood disorder such as major depressive disorder (MDD).

MDD, also referred to as clinical depression, is a significant medical condition that can affect many areas of your life. It impacts mood and behaviour as well as various physical functions, such as appetite and sleep. Most people with the disorder can learn to cope and function with treatment. Medications, psychotherapy, and other methods can effectively treat people with MDD and help them manage their symptoms. 

Children who have negative temperaments are more likely to develop MDD. Those who have first-degree family members who have depression are also more at risk, as are kids who have had adverse childhood experiences. Having another major disorder or a chronic or disabling medical condition also makes children more likely to develop depression. In addition to this, Abuse that is in physical, sexual, or emotional nature can increase the vulnerability to clinical depression later in life.

Other causes include certain medications, conflict, death or a loss, genetics, major life events or serious illnesses.

What are the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder?

Major Depressive Disorder is a serious mental illness that Negative emotions such as sadness, worthlessness, and helplessness. Symptoms can also include the following:

  • loss of interest in activities
  • sleep changes
  • appetite changes
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating.

Major Depressive Disorder symptoms can vary in severity and duration, but they typically last for at least two weeks. They can be difficult to diagnose because some of its symptoms, such as fatigue and sleep changes, are also common symptoms of other conditions. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to see a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment.

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How Major Depressive Disorders affects Children

Children often find it difficult to explain how they’re feeling, especially if they’re experiencing depression. However, there are a few key signs and symptoms to look out for – particularly if they happen together over several weeks and are out of character for your child. Children with depression may:

  • have low energy and be difficult to motivate
  • lose interest easily in an activity they usually enjoy
  • have difficulty listening and concentrating on tasks
  • make negative comments about themselves
  • withdraw from social situations, not want to spend time with friends
  • look for what’s wrong rather than see the positives in situations
  • be very difficult to please
  • be irritable, agitated, easily annoyed or upset
  • seem sad and cry easily and be difficult to soothe
  • either have no interest in food or overeat
  • have problems going to sleep or staying asleep, waking early, or sleeping a lot

Because the symptoms of depression are often characterised by negative behaviour such as irritability or whining, it’s easy to feel annoyed and to blame or punish the child for their behaviour. This can result in other signs of depression being missed.

How is Major Depressive Disorder diagnosed?

Major Depressive Disorder is typically diagnosed by a mental health professional after ruling out other potential causes. The professional will likely administer a psychological evaluation and ask about the individual’s symptoms, thoughts, and feelings. Major Depressive Disorder is a serious condition that can significantly impair quality of life, but fortunately there are many effective treatments available. If you think you may be suffering from Major Depressive Disorder, it is important to seek professional help.

How is Major Depressive Disorder treated?

Major Depressive Disorder is a serious mental illness that can have a profound impact on every aspect of a person’s life. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment, there are several effective options available. Common treatments for Major Depressive Disorder include medication, psychotherapy, and brain stimulation therapies. Medication is often used to help stabilise mood and alleviate symptoms. Psychotherapy can help people identify and manage negative thoughts and behaviours. Brain stimulation therapies, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, can be helpful for people who do not respond to other treatments.

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