affects approximately 5% of adolescents. Major depression often begins between the ages of 15 and 30, but it can appear in children. In childhood, boys and girls appear to be at equal risk for depression; but during adolescence, girls are twice as likely as boys to develop depression.
Because normal behaviors vary from one childhood stage to another, it can be difficult to tell whether a child is just going through a temporary phase or is suffering from depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provides a list of symptoms and signs to help identify when a child is suffering from depression.
Symptoms of Depression Common to Children, Adolescents, and Adults
Persistent sad or irritable mood
Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
Significant change in appetite or body weight
Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
Psychomotor agitation or retardation
Loss of energy
Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Signs of Depression That May Be Present in Children and Adolescents
Frequent vague, nonspecific physical complaints such as headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches, or tiredness
Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
Talk of or efforts to run away from home
Outbursts of shouting, complaining, unexplained irritability, or crying
Not every depressed child will experience every symptom—some will experience a few symptoms, some many; and the severity of symptoms will vary from child to child. Depression can be very serious, but it is treatable. If your child is showing any of these signs and symptoms,
talk with your child's pediatrician.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a