Depression in Children and Teens

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How are the symptoms of depression different for children and teens?

Children and teens might not show all of the usual symptoms of depression seen in adults, but they will often have some of them. Younger children who are depressed may:

  • Have a poor appetite and/or weight loss
  • Feel sad or hopeless
  • Not enjoy playing as much as usual
  • Worry more

Older children who are depressed may:

  • Be angry (lose their temper) or anxious
  • Have changes in appetite (eating more than usual, or eating less)
  • Not want to go to school or other social activities
  • Seem less confident or feel like they can't do anything right

If you notice these signs every day for several weeks, it might mean your child is depressed.

Why do young people get depressed?

Many things can cause depression, including genetics, medical conditions, and life events. The following are some of the reasons children and teens might get depressed:

  • The family moves to a new place to live
  • The child has to change to a new school
  • A pet, friend, or family member dies
  • Someone in the family is very sick
  • The child experiences the hormonal changes of puberty
  • Behavior problems or conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

What should I do if I think my child is depressed?

Ask your child about his or her thoughts and feelings. It may also be a good idea to talk to your doctor about your child's behavior and your concerns about his or her depression. In most cases, taking your child to your family doctor is a good idea. A medical problem may be causing the depression. Your doctor may want to give your child a general medical check-up.

What can be done to help depressed children and teens?

Most depressed children and teens should talk to a counselor, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist about what is making them feel the way they are feeling. Family counseling can help everyone in the family. Your family doctor can refer you and your child to someone for counseling. Most depressed children and teens do best when they get both counseling and medicine.

 

This content has been supported by Forest Laboratories Inc.

Bibliography

See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 08/12
Created: 04/12

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