A simple saliva test could help diagnose depression in kids, according to a new study that highlights the hard-to-spot signs of childhood mental illness.
The test would look for high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which might help distinguish depression from normal childhood angst, according to the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Roughly one in 50 American kids suffers from depression, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While cortisol could one day make diagnosing depression in kids a bit easier, certain symptoms should raise red flags. Read on for five signs of childhood depression.
Source: National Institute of Mental Health
Feeling helpless and hopeless are key signs of depression, even in kids. Depressed children may sulk or seem grouchy and irritable, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. They might also lose interest in activities that were once enjoyable.
Refusing to go to school or pretending to be sick to get out of it can signal depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The mood disorder can also make it harder to concentrate in class.
|Mysterious Aches and Pains|
Children with depression sometimes suffer from headaches and stomach pains that don't ease with treatment. This is different from pretending to be sick, as the physical symptoms are real, but the cause may be psychological.
|Clinging to a Parent|
Excessive clinginess can signal depression in kids, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Some depressed children may even have irrational fears that a parent will die.
Depression can take a toll on a child's energy levels, resulting in oversleeping in some cases and insomnia in others. The mood disorder can also affect appetite, leading to overeating or appetite loss.
Click here for more information on childhood depression.