Appetite Changes

Appetite Changes in Children

A child’s appetite naturally fluctuates over the course of their development.  Growth spurts, changes in tastes, periodic illness and increases/decreases in activity level can all play a role in this.  Often we are able to account for these changes and do not worry about it.  There are times, however when we should be concerned about changes in a child’s appetite.

Sustained appetite loss or increased appetite (for 2 or more weeks) accompanied by mood and behavior changes could be a signal that a child is struggling.  When a child is depressed, appetite disruption is one of several warning signs of which we should be aware.  A child’s appetite may change in that they are either eating much more than usual or less than usual.  Sleep is another function that becomes affected when a child is depressed.  A child’s sleep can either increase significantly or decrease.  Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep are cosistent with childhood depression.  It is also not uncommon for a depressed child or teen to start taking naps when historically they have not.

Other indicators of depression include:

  •             Persistent sadness or hopelessness
  •             Withdrawal from friends or activities they used to enjoy
  •             Increased irritability
  •             Poor concentration
  •             Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  •             Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness
  •             Increased physical complaints i.e., stomach-aches, headaches
  •             Poor motivation
  •             Low energy
  •             Experimentation with alcohol or drugs
  •             Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

One or two of these symptoms does not mean that a child is depressed.  However, if you notice several of these signs at the same time, it may be a good idea to explore changes or stressors which may be causing this.  A referral for a psychological evaluation is always helpful to assist with treatment planning for these children. beimei huaren