PHE 5001 Depression in Children and Teens

Depression in Children and Teens



Depression in Children and Teens

Depression is an illness that affects the emotional aspects of an individual. The cause of this is due to various circumstances in a human being’s life that result in a person feeling sad and unable to enjoy life to the fullest. It is very common in adults as they are the most prone to stressful situations due to the many pressures of life. (Kapornai, 2008)

However, in the recent past, studies have shown that even children and teenagers also suffer from depression. One in every ten children suffers from emotional disturbance. These disturbances may result in depression in various circumstances. (Kapornai, 2008)

Depression is due to various aspects that surround an individual, and various theories have been developed explaining the occurrence of depression. In children, it mainly results from how you raise a child, the exposure of the child to different stressors, and the personality of the child. The theories developed apply for both children and adults.

One of these theories is the cognitive theory of depression which was developed by Dr. Aaron Beck. This theory explains that having negative thoughts and beliefs that are dysfunctional is the cause for depression developing in an individual. People who view themselves to have many defects and have a poor self-image of themselves and the future are the most likely to suffer from depression. The more negative the person’s thoughts are the more the severity of depression in the individual. A depressed person will most of the times base their views on three main spheres that heighten the state of depression. These spheres are; the individual will see themselves as incomplete and to possess a defect. They also believe that whatever they do result in a failure and they do not believe that they can do something that will lead to success. Finally, these people believe that their future has no hope, and nothing good will happen to them. These three spheres are known as the negative cognitive triad. (Ernst, 1991)People who think in this manner are seen to show various symptoms of depression. This form of thinking is present in both adults and children.

An example of this theory in play is where a child fails in a test. A child with the negative cognitive triad of thinking will first blame himself for the failure. They will consider themselves to be the reason for the failure and to have a weakness in the particular subject. Another child without this form of thinking may consider the failure to be as a result of the exam being difficult and may not necessarily put the blame on themselves. The depressed child will also believe that whatever test they do result in a failure. They will tend to focus on all the tests they have failed in the past and forget all the tests that they have passed. The failed tests may be fewer than those that they have passed, but they will focus on the failed ones. They will also believe that they can never pass another test and will not see any hope in the future. They have the belief that even though they are bright and capable of succeeding in their academics. (Haaga, 1991)

Another example is when the child disagrees with their friends while playing. The child with depression will start to find fault in themselves and believes the negative words that their friends may have said about them. They will see themselves as the reason for the fight and will consider themselves to have a defect in their personalities. They will think in this way even though they may not be the reason for the fight. They will also remember all the other fights they have had with their friends and will concentrate on this forgetting the good times they have also had with their buddies. They may finally result in remaining alone without looking for other friendships as they will believe that friendship of any kind that they may they have will result in a fight. Changing how these children view themselves and their environment and having them think more positively will help in treating the depression that these children suffer f. (Haaga, 1991)

The other theory is the tripartite model of anxiety and depression which was put across by D. Watson and L. A. Clark. This theory explained the different emotional aspects that resulted in both anxiety and depression. Anxiety is associated with hyper psychological arousal and general negative effect while we characterize depression with a low positive effect. Children who suffered from depression were seen to have a low positive effect and a high negative effect. Psychological hyperarousal was not seen to be a causative agent for depression. (Clark, 1991). This theory worked mainly to tell what an individual was ailing from between anxiety and depression. It is because the symptoms of anxiety are not so different from those of depression and one may at times fail to tell the two easily apart. The medication given would, therefore, be more precise and would help the patient recover faster.

An example of this model in practice is in a situation where a depressed child displays characters of low self-esteem. The child will view themselves as not being good enough to associate with other children and will tend to be more reserved. The child will also concentrate on the attributes in them that they consider to be of low standards or to be bad. They will fail to realize that they also possess good qualities. If an individual tends to comment on their negative attributes, they will focus on this more than the positive observations and compliments that they receive. This negative effect will result in depression in the child. (Watson, 1991).

Another example is a situation where a situation happens in the life of the child, and they tend to concentrate more on the negative aspects of the situation. It can occur in a case where there is the loss of a friendship or a close friend. The child will tend to concentrate on the sad feelings that they have and will not want to receive or accept any consolation given to them. They will concentrate on the negative feelings they have and fail to see the situation as a regular occurrence in life. Associating themselves with positive or exciting activities will not be something that they will want to associate. They will tend to want to remain in their sorry state and concentrate on the hurt that they feel. Happiness will not be something that they will want to seek. This reaction may be irrespective of the situations that led to the loss. The child may have nothing to do with the loss. The high negative effect and the low positive effect will result in them not finding anything positive in the situation. Such children will not look for the positive side any situation that they consider to be negative. (Clark, 1991).

Depressed individuals may try to convince themselves that what they feel is all in their minds that are not the case. With these theories in perspective, treatment of depression in both children and adults is made easy as the health practitioners know which medication to use based on which case applies to the patient. Understanding a child is also made easier, and parents are in a better position to help their children in having the right view of life which will help prevent depression in their children. (Kapornai, 2008).


Kapornai, K., & Vetró, Á. (2008). Depression in children. Current opinion in psychiatry21(1),1-7.

Haaga, D. A., Dyck, M. J., & Ernst, D. (1991). Empirical status of cognitive theory ofdepression. Psychological bulletin110(2), 215.

Clark, L. A., & Watson, D. (1991). Tripartite model of anxiety and depression: psychometricevidence and taxonomic implications. Journal of abnormal psychology100(3), 316.

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