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Learn More About Depression in Children and Adolescents

Children go through the regular mood changes from time to time but sometimes a low mood or changes in behavior is a little more than just ‘the blues’. The truth is depression is not only prevalent in adults but also children are at risk. Depression is a serious mental health condition that can affect individuals of all ages, including children and adolescents. 

What is Childhood Depression?

Childhood depression is more than the appearance of ‘the blues’ and every day fluctuating emotions that children go through in the regular development process. However, the mere appearance of sadness is not a sign of depression.

Childhood Depression is more the consistent appearance of sadness coupled with the withdrawal from regular social activities with family and friends, personal interests, and schoolwork. 

When depression happens in this manner its important to pay attention because this might indicate an actual case of childhood depression. 

Understanding Depressive Disorders in Children

Depressive disorders in children encompass a range of conditions characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities. These conditions can significantly impact a child's mood, behavior, and overall functioning. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), depressive disorders diagnosed in children may include:

  1. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): Characterized by persistent feelings of sadness or irritability, along with changes in sleep, appetite, energy levels, concentration, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  2. Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD): Formerly known as dysthymia, PDD involves chronic depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years, accompanied by changes in appetite, sleep, energy levels, self-esteem, and concentration.
  3. Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD): A relatively new diagnosis characterized by severe and recurrent temper outbursts, along with persistently irritable or angry mood, occurring frequently and in multiple settings.

Childhood Depression Signs

Recognizing the signs of depression in children is crucial for early intervention and support. While symptoms may vary, some common signs and symptoms of childhood depression include:

  1. Persistent sadness, tearfulness, or hopelessness.
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed.
  3. Changes in appetite or weight, either loss or gain.
  4. Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or excessive sleepiness.
  5. Fatigue or loss of energy, even after restful sleep.
  6. Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things.
  7. Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or self-blame.
  8. Irritability or anger, outbursts of frustration or aggression.
  9. Social withdrawal, isolation from friends and family.
  10. Physical complaints, such as headaches or stomachaches, with no medical cause.

Childhood Depression Statistics 

Statistics reveals that in the United States an average of 3% of children experience depression; with the prevalence of it being more observed in boys under ten years of age. 

The Existence Of Childhood Depression And Anxiety

The statistics of childhood anxiety is higher than childhood depression by 4%. The presence of depression and anxiety is the most common mental disorders in children. 

Differentiating signs of anxiety when mixed with depression include persistent feelings of panic, fear and worry over daily situations. Though anxiety can be linked to the normal growth process in children, it is a cause for concern when they persist; this is the time to ask for help. 

Support and Intervention Strategies 

Supporting a child with depression requires compassion, patience, and understanding. Here are some strategies for parents to help children cope with depression:

  1. Provide Emotional Support: Offer unconditional love, empathy, and reassurance to your child, letting them know that it's okay to feel sad and that you're there to support them.
  2. Encourage Open Communication: Create a safe and supportive environment where your child feels comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Listen attentively without judgment.
  3. Seek Professional Help: Consult with a mental health professional, such as a child psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist, for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan.
  4. Implement Healthy Habits: Encourage your child to engage in regular physical activity, eat nutritious meals, maintain a consistent sleep schedule, and practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness.
  5. Set Realistic Goals: Break tasks into manageable steps and celebrate small achievements to boost your child's self-esteem and motivation.
  6. Foster Social Connections: Encourage your child to maintain connections with supportive friends, family members, teachers, or other trusted adults who can offer additional support and understanding.


Childhood depression is a serious and complex mental health condition, but with early intervention and support, children can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression, seeking professional help, providing emotional support, and implementing healthy coping strategies, parents can play a crucial role in their child's recovery journey. Remember, you're not alone in this journey, and there are resources and professionals available to support you and your child every step of the way.