April 05, 2017 - Dubai, UAE: In support of the 2017 World Health Day theme, Depression: Let's talk, Clinical Psychologists, Dr Eve McAllister and Dr Daniel Stark from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) are calling for parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression in children.
According to the World Health Organisation, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting over 300 million people. This World Health Day, GOSH are urging parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression and other common mental health difficulties in children. Whilst depression is rarer in younger-children (~4%), it typically becomes more evident in young-people as they move towards adolescence (10-20%) .
“Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions worldwide, including the Middle East,” reports Dr Daniel Stark, Clinical Psychologist at the London-based hospital, which treats over 1,500 children from the Middle East every year. In a new report published by the World Health Organisation this year, it is estimated that 5.1% of the UAE population are suffering with depression .
Depression is a common mental health condition that negatively affects how people feel, the way that they think and how they act. It usually involves a child feeling sad or becoming significantly more irritable and finding it more difficult to get pleasure out of activities. It may include negative thoughts, such as ‘I'm not good enough,' ‘nobody likes me' or ‘I'm terrible at this.' Depression can also include physical symptoms, such as fatigue, weight loss or gain, sleeping difficulties and finding it difficult to concentrate. Children with depression may wish to withdraw from day-to-day activities that they previously enjoyed. Some older children with depression may also experience thoughts of life not being worth living or thoughts of harming themselves.
Transitions or changes in a child's life may trigger the onset of a mental health difficulty, such as depression or anxiety. “Parents may see these challenges arise following times of change, such as moving school or moving home, or moving to a new country,” Dr Eve McAllister said. “Depression may also be linked to another underlying mental health condition. For example, if your child has become very worried about speaking in public, asking and answering questions in school, and wants to avoid social gatherings at home, then they may be experiencing social anxiety. This shyness, can then lead to depression if it leads to your child becoming isolated from peers”.
Depression is very common in young people who already have physical health conditions too. “Looking at the scientific literature, young people with a physical health condition are often more likely to experience depression compared to their peers. In addition, it is often their mental-health rather than their physical health difficulties that has the biggest impact on quality of life,” Dr Daniel Stark reports.
“Depression is being increasingly recognised in younger-people,” Dr Daniel Stark explains. “It's important for parents to know that depressed children do not always look like depressed adults. However, the good news is that there are good, evidence-based treatments for children who are experiencing difficulties with their mood.”