Mood Disorders in Children

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, May 22, 2019
By Stephanie Gosset, LMHC

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

There is plenty of information out there about mood disorders. The public is becoming more educated about major depression, bipolar disorder and the like; but what many people still do not realize is that these disorders are not limited to adults. People of all ages can develop depression or any mood disorder, and that includes children.

Any parent knows that a child’s mood, behavior, attention or energy level can change without warning, but sometimes these changes are not a sign of a child’s developmental level but an indication that a child’s mental health is suffering.

Symptoms of mood disorders in children include: sadness, fatigue, despair, changes in appetite, loss of interest, severe mood swings, difficulty sleeping, hopelessness, sense of inferiority, irritability, feelings of incompetence, trouble concentrating, withdrawn, and inability to function effectively. Many children might have one or two of these symptoms at one time or another, but it is the presence of several symptoms for an extended period of time that indicates a mood disorder.

Here are some tips for parents:

Learn about mood disorders.
Keep a daily diary of your child’s mood, energy, appetite, behaviors, sleep, concerns, and share them with the doctor.
Help your child maintain a routine for sleep, meal times and activities.
Use gentle music, relaxation tapes, dim lights, warm baths and massages to help with falling asleep.
Anticipate or avoid stressful situations, limit frightening movies, video games and TV shows.
Have a psychologist evaluate your child for any hidden learning difficulties that may cause stress at school.
Help your child maintain strong social bonds. Connect them to family, social groups and sports.
Early diagnosis and treatment are key to helping kids learn how to manage symptoms and succeed in life. If you or someone you know has a child who might be suffering from a mood disorder, it is important to seek help immediately.

Do you have any tips that can be helpful for a child’s mental wellness?