Tensions in the family, the fast pace of life, demanding parents and bullying at school are the main causes of depression. Symptoms include many of those of adult depression. They range from learning and/or sleeping difficulties to stammering, bed-wetting, stomach aches, headaches, weight and appetite change, loss of energy, abnormally agitated, slowed or clinging behaviour, loss of self-control, defecation in their clothes, feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt feelings, incapacity to accept consolation, inability to keep friends, indecision, recurrent thoughts of death and rebellious behaviour. The psychologists say that the cure is more love, affection and attention; punishment only makes things worse.
It is particularly difficult to diagnose severe depression in teenagers because they are often perceived as moody, experimental and rebellious. Abrupt changes of behaviour are considered the norm for adolescent behaviour and are too seldom recognized as indicators of depression.
One in 25 children aged six to 12 suffers from depression, according to child psychologists at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). Among adolescents the figure may be as high as 1 in 10. Children of depressed parents are 3 times more likely to become depressed.