Depressive Disorders

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July 3, 2020 / By thadmin2

What I need to know to help my child with Depression

  1. What are Depressive Disorders? 
  2. What are the common Depressive Disorders faced by children and youths? 
  3. What types of therapies do Thrive Psychology Clinic provide for children and youths with Depressive Disorders?
  4. Parenting a child with Depressive Disorder.
    • Support and resources for parents.


What are Depressive Disorders? 

Depressive disorders are a group of mood disorders characterised by sadness severe enough or persistent enough to interfere with individuals’ daily functioning, and often results in decreased interest or pleasure in activities. Although sadness or low moods are normal occurrences in almost all individuals, there are identifiable signs of depressive disorders amongst children and adults. Unexplained anger and persistent irritability for long periods of time are a common indication of depression in children and adolescents, while persistent sadness is more commonly observed in adults. 

Although there is a wide range of depressive disorders, some of the common depressive disorders include:


  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • Atypical Depression 


Depressive disorders are more commonly diagnosed in females than males. In terms of the risk factors contributing to the onset of depressive disorders, gene-environment interactions are a possible explanation for this. Genetic or biological factors such as family mental health history can interact with environmental factors such as major stressful life events – for example the divorce of parents, death of a loved one, or trauma, in contributing to the cumulative impact of depressive disorders arising in some individuals.


What are the common Depressive Disorders faced by children and youths? 

Depression in children often presents differently than it does in adults, thus some depressive disorders are more commonly experienced within children and adolescents. These disorders include Major Depressive Disorders (MDD), Persistent Depressive Disorder and Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. 

 Major Depressive Disorders (MDD) is a severe condition in which a child experiences episodes of depression with a marked loss of pleasure in nearly all activities. Most children experience symptoms that last for at least two weeks.

According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), symptoms of childhood depression can include:

  • Feeling sad or irritable most of the day and nearly every day
  • Academic decline (as a result of having difficulty thinking and/or concentrating)
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in things of past enjoyment
  • Problems with sleep (having trouble falling asleep or sleeping more than usual)
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness 
  • Clinging to a parent
  • Unexplained crying
  • Thoughts or actions of self-harm

Persistent Depressive Disorder, formerly known as dysthymia or dysthymic disorder, is a chronic but milder mood disorder than MDD. For children, symptoms of depression must be experienced more often than not for at least one year (lowered for children) to be diagnosed with PDD. Although the depressive symptoms seen in PDD overlap with those found in MDD, the differences lie in the severity, duration and  persistence of these symptoms. While the symptoms of PDD may cause distress to the child, the child is however still able to function on a daily basis. On the other hand, a child with MDD experiences intense and severe symptoms to the point of suicidal ideation and struggles with day-to-day functioning.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder is a new depressive disorder recently added to the DSM-5, which is characterised by extreme anger, irritability and frequent, intense temper outbursts. This pattern of behaviour is beyond a child who is “moody” or who throws “temper tantrums.” Instead, children display a pattern of abnormal, episodic, and frequently violent and uncontrollable social behaviour without provocation, often requiring clinical attention.

Contact us for an appointment to receive a psychological assessment for your child.


What types of therapies do Thrive Psychology Clinic provide for children and youths with Depressive Disorders?

At Thrive Psychology Clinic, we recognise the uniqueness of each individual – child and adults alike. Hence, we are always broadening our therapeutic services to ensure that all our clients’ have their mental well-being cared for in an individualised manner.

Here are some of the therapies that may help a child dealing with Depressive Disorders:

  • Behavioural Therapy
  • Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Neurocognitive Therapy (can be used to complement Behavioural Therapy)
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Animal-assisted Therapy

To treat depressive disorders, neurocognitive therapy and behavioural therapy are the gold standard therapies to treat children and adolescents with depressive disorders as they have been clinically proven to be effective. By combining both neurocognitive therapy and behavioural therapy, children and psychologists can actively collaborate to meet set goals, such as identifying and addressing unhelpful thought patterns as well as improving problem-solving abilities. Central to these two types of therapies would be teaching children that their thoughts, feelings and behaviours are all interconnected.

For example, cognitive therapy may be a particularly powerful intervention to change your child’s negative and unhelpful thinking patterns, e.g., “I am too stupid. No one will love me”, after having failed an examination in school. These negative thinking patterns and appraisals of their situation may lead the child to develop and reinforce the various symptoms of depression as aforementioned – such as emotional, behavioural, cognitive and physiological. With cognitive therapy, these negative thoughts and assumptions that play a contributory role in the child’s mood and behaviours can be identified and corrected, especially those that may predispose the sufferer to be depressed.

At Thrive Psychology Clinic, cognitive therapy is also often complemented with Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT). As pioneers of VRT in Singapore, we firmly believe that  personalised computer-simulations can serve to enhance the mental well-being of our clients. VRT is a powerful tool for managing depressive disorders as it allows clients to feel pleasant immersive experiences through the use of simulations. VRT can also compliment Mindfulness exercises by creating environments, such as the calm wilderness or a running waterfall, to redirect negative thoughts. Lastly, the use of VR can encourage objectivity and the elimination of negative thought patterns by allowing clients to explore different perspectives, with the help and guidance of the Therapist.


Contact us to enquire more about our therapies available.


Parenting a child with Depression  

Parenting in itself is not an easy feat. At Thrive Psychology Clinic, we recognise the need to support parents and caregivers through:

    • Educating caregivers of children and youths with special needs e.g., workshops and webinars at Thrive Psychology Clinic
    • Providing advice on how to manage their stress
    • Developing their skill in identifying the ABC’s (i.e., antecedent, behaviour, and consequence) such as P.O.W.E.R. in Behavioural Therapy (preview video displayed below)
    • Encouraging caregivers to accept their child with special needs and not feel despair
    • Creating self-help online resources for parents who wish to educate themselves more
    • Regularly providing complimentary educational resources by subscribing to our mailing list and social media platforms