Depression Share +

Childhood Depression

Depression is one of the most common disorders. It affects a person's overall energy, mood, expressions of emotion and behavior. Depression is commonly referred to as a Mood Disorder.  Emotion is what you are feeling at a given moment. How you feel over a long period of time is your mood.

An estimated 1 out of 10 children have difficulty escaping the symptoms of depression for long periods of time. The rate of depression is markedly lower (1%) in children ages 1 to 6 years old.  The rate is higher in older children ages 9 to 12 years (12%).

Symptoms and Behaviors Associated with Depression in Children

  • Crying, feeling sad, helpless or hopeless
  • Feeling discouraged or worthless
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in others or most activities
  • Fatigue and loss of energy nearly every day
  • Bad temper, irritable, easily annoyed
  • Fearful, tense, anxious
  • Repeated rejection by other children
  • Drop in school performance
  • Inability to sit still, fidgeting or pacing
  • Repeated emotional outbursts, shouting or complaining
  • Doesn't talk to other children
  • Repeated physical complaints without medical cause (headaches, stomach aches, aching arm or legs)
  • Significant increase or decrease in appetite (not due to appropriate dieting)
  • Change in sleep habits

Serious And Critical Symptoms

  • Suicidal thoughts, feelings or self-harming behavior
  • Abuse or prolonged use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Symptoms of depression combined with strange or unusual behavior

Advice To Parents

  • Seek immediate advice and consultation from a crisis intervention specialist or qualified health care professional if there are any of the critical symptoms listed above.
  • Seek advice and consultation as soon as possible from a qualified mental health professional if the symptoms of depression are severe, prolonged, debilitating, unexplained or unusual.
  • Seek medical advice if you suspect health problems or symptoms are not explained and there has not had a medical evaluation for the child's symptoms.
  • Seek consultation regarding alcohol use. Alcohol use by children is never appropriate.
  • Evaluate drug use.  Drugs that are not medically appropriate or approved by your physician can contribute to depression.
  • Learn more about any medications the child is taking. Ask your physician and pharmacist about potential interactions and side-effects.
  • A normal depression is usually temporary, can come and go, but should diminish over time.  Allow the child space and time
  • Maintain a regular and nutritional diet. Avoid meal skipping. A proper diet is a critical source of energy and the child's ability to cope and recover.
  • Maintain a regular sleep cycle. Avoid sleeping or napping during the day if it is difficult to sleep during regular times. Irregular sleep patterns prolong or worsen symptoms of depression.
  • Stay involved and avoid extended isolation from positive activities and influences.
  • Maintain regular or routine physical activity that is appropriate for any existing medical condition.
  • Physical activity can help relieve or manage depression.
  • Spend time with the child, be caring, listen well and be understanding.
  • Take time on a regular basis to help the child enjoy pleasurable activities and recreational interests.

Depression in Adolescent and Adults

At one time or another, everyone will experience feelings of depression. Feeling sad or depressed is a normal reaction to a tragedy, change, or a significant loss in our lives. For most people, the symptoms of depression are only temporary.

Depression is described in terms of the severity, duration and type of symptoms. The general feeling of depression is characterized by diminished motivation, low self-esteem, low energy, impaired thinking and emotional well-being.  Depression affects a person's overall energy, mood, expressions of emotion and behavior.

An estimated 1 and 2 adults out of every 10 adults have significant symptoms of depression (10 to 20%).

Symptoms Of Depression In Older Children And Adults

  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Significant increase or decrease in appetite
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in others or most activities
  • Feeling discouraged or worthless
  • A significant drop in performance in school or at work
  • Fatigue or loss of energy most of the time
  • Restlessness, fidgeting or pacing
  • Crying, feeling sad, helpless or hopeless
  • Episodes of fear, tension or anxiety
  • Frustration, irritability, emotional outbursts
  • Excessive guilt or inappropriate self-blame
  • Repeated medical complaints without a known medical cause (headaches, stomach aches, pain in arms or legs)

Serious And Critical Symptoms

  • Suicidal thoughts, feelings or self-harming behavior  
  • Aggressive, destructive, threatening or violent behavior 
  • Abuse or prolonged use of alcohol or other drugs 
  • Symptoms of depression combined with strange, bizarre or unusual behavior

Advice For Adults And For Parents Of Children Who May Have Depression

  • Seek immediate advice and consultation from a crisis intervention specialist or a qualified health care professional if you or your chill have any of the serious and critical symptoms listed above.
  • Seek advice and consultation as soon as possible from a qualified mental health professional if you or your child experience symptoms of depression that are severe, prolonged, debilitating, unexplained or unusual.
  • Seek medical advice if you or your child have health problems, the symptoms are not explained and there has been no medical evaluation for their symptoms.
  • Recognize the biological effects of alcohol use.  Avoid or minimize alcohol use. Alcohol is a depressant in which prolonged or excessive use will increase and deepen symptoms associated with depression. Alcohol can produce a "high" and initial relief from depression. Regular alcohol use, even in moderation, can prolong recovery and deepen symptoms of depression.
  • Avoid drugs that are not medically appropriate or approved by a physician.
  • Learn more about any medications you are taking. Ask a physician and pharmacist about potential interactions and side-effects. Know when medication are more effective that psychotherapy.
  • A normal depression is usually temporary, can come and go, but should diminish over time.
  • Maintain a regular and nutritional diet. Avoid meal skipping. A proper diet is a critical source of energy for you or your child's  ability to cope and recover.
  • Maintain a regular sleep cycle. Avoid sleeping or napping during the day if it is difficult to sleep during regular times. Irregular sleep patterns prolong or worsen symptoms of depression.
  • Children or adults should remain involved and avoid extended isolation from positive activities and influences.
  • Maintain regular or routine physical activity that is appropriate for any existing medical problem or condition.
  • Physical activity can help relieve and manage depression.
  • Spend time with people who listen, understand, kind, respectful and can be firm.
  • Create opportunities and take time on a regular basis to enjoy pleasurable activities and recreational interests.
  • Be sure you research and understand the limits and problems involved when using mental health insurance.

Resources for Childhood and Adult Depression

National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-NAMI (1-800-950-6264), https://www.nami.org

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: 1-240-485-1001, http://www.adaa.org

National Institute of Mental Health: 1-866-615-6464, http://www.nimh.nih.gov

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Division of Mental Health, 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636), http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth

Understanding and Dealing with Depression from OregonCounseling.org

Coping, Advocacy, & Support

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Support Groups

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), https://afsp.org

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: 1-800-826-3632, http://www.dbsalliance.org

Families for Depression Awareness: 1-781-890-0220, http://familyaware.org

To Write Love On Her Arms: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), https://twloha.com