Depression in children and men: Identifying symptoms

A father and his children.
A father and his children. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Depression is very difficult to identify in children, adolescents, and men. Symptoms of depression manifest very differently in children, adolescents, and men.

Lets look at the symptoms of depression in children and adolescents:

  • Irritability or frustration
  • difficulty with peers (bullying, frequent arguments, easily angered, etc.)
  • declining grades
  • frequent letters from teachers
  • declining concentration in school
  • lack of interest (youngsters may not be interested in meeting with friends, going skating, spending time with family, etc.)
  • Isolation (youngsters will often retreat to their bedrooms)
  • Moodiness (up and down in moods)

If symptoms of depression last longer than 2 weeks, interfere greatly with functionality, and have become noticeable to others, this may be a sign to seek psychiatric attention. You can contact your child’s pediatrician or your PCP for further information. Because child and adolescent depression is often difficult to identify, you may need to seek a second opinion. A PCP might be able to offer some useful information, but you will more than likely receive better information from a mental health professional.

Depression in men is also quite complicated. Because of the social stigma of the “strong man” or “strong father” roles, men often hide their feelings of depression and end up expressing other features of depression such as:

  • Irritability or low frustration tolerance
  • angry outbursts or hostility
  • increased need or decreased need for sleep
  • fatigue
  • Physiological symptoms (back pain or nausea)
  • poor concentration
  • little to no interest in physical intimacy
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Isolation or withdrawal
  • substance abuse (self medication)
  • Indecisiveness
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you have a male in your life who you suspect may be suffering from depression, I encourage you to reach out to them. Some men have very sensitive egos so you want to approach the topic gently. You may start by inquiring about their mood or other symptoms you’ve noticed and then ask them if they feel something may be wrong. Express your consideration of them and suggest he see his doctor. Offer to go along for support.

Children, adolescents, and men truly need us to monitor their mood. They may be suffering greatly but they will never let us know. For children and teens, they may not recognize there is a problem. For men, they may simply not want to share their pain with us. If you believe a loved one may have suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for further information at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

You may also read my article on signs of suicidal ideation

I wish you the best