Symptoms and Signs of Depression in Children and Adolescents
]]>Depression]]> 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
- Difficulty concentrating
- 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
- Being bored
- Lack of interest in playing with friends
- ]]>Alcohol]]> or ]]>substance abuse]]>
- Social isolation, poor communication
- Fear of death
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
- Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
- Reckless behavior
- Difficulty with relationships
Note : 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.
American Psychological Association
National Institute of Mental Health
Canadian Mental Health Association
Mental Health Canada
Last reviewed January 2009 by ]]>J. Thomas Megerian, MD, PhD, FAAP ]]>
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 medical condition.
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