Mood Disorders in Children & Youth

Last week, we discussed anxiety as one of the most common mental health concerns for children and adolescents.  This week we will highlight another – mood disorders.  These disorders are real medical conditions and, much like anxiety, your child will likely not just “get over it.”

When working with children, youth and their loved ones at Healing Path Counselling Services, it is always encouraged to obtain a thorough assessment and recommendations from the family physician as a starting point.  It is also helpful to recognize and understand the symptoms of mood disorders.  The following are the most common symptoms but are certainly not exhaustive:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Feeling of inadequacy
  • Excessive guilt
  • Feelings of wanting to die
  • Loss of interest in usual activities or activities once enjoyed
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Sleep disturbances (for example, insomnia, or hypersomnia)
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A decrease in the ability to make decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Frequent physical complaints (for example, headache, stomachache, or fatigue)
  • Running away or threats of running away from home
  • Hypersensitivity to failure or rejection
  • Irritability, hostility, aggression

With children and youth, these feelings can appear more intense.  It is also of concern if these feelings continue over a period of time, or interfere with their interest in being with friends or taking part in daily activities at home or school. Any child or adolescent who expresses thoughts of suicide should be evaluated immediately.

Other signs of possible mood disorders in children and youth may include:

  • Difficulty achieving in school
  • Constant anger
  • Rebellious behaviors
  • Trouble with family
  • Difficulty with friends and peers

What is encouraging is the fact that mood disorders can often be effectively treated. Treatment should always be based on a comprehensive evaluation of the child, youth and family. At Healing Path Counselling Services, treatment is often encouraged to include one, or more, of the following:

  • Psychotherapy (most often cognitive-behavioural therapy) for the child/youth  (focused on changing their distorted views of themselves and the environment around them; working through difficult relationships; identifying stressors in their environment and how to avoid them)
  • Medications (especially when combined with psychotherapy has shown to be very effective in the treatment of mood disorders in children and teens)
  • Family therapy
  • Consultation with the school and/or faith community

Parents or guardians play a crucial and supportive role in any treatment process.

If you feel your child or youth may be struggling with any of the above or if they have received a diagnosis – please reach out to Healing Path Counselling Services and know that you are not alone.

#mooddisordersinchildren #mooddisordersinteens #healingpath #cbt #cognitivebehaviouraltherapy


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