Depression in Children (cont.)
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Depression in children facts
- What is childhood depression?
- What are the types of depression in children?
- What are causes and risk factors for depression in children?
- What are the symptoms and warning signs of depression in children?
- How is depression in children diagnosed?
- What should parents do if they suspect that their child is depressed?
- What is the treatment for depression in children?
- What are complications of depression in children?
- What is the prognosis of depression in children?
- Can depression in children be prevented?
- Where can families get support for a child with depression?
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
What are the symptoms and warning signs of depression in children?
Clinical depression, also called major depression, is more than sadness that lasts for a day or two before feeling better. In true depressive illnesses, the symptoms last weeks, months, or sometimes years if no treatment is received. Depression often results in the sufferer being unable to perform daily activities, such as getting out of bed or getting dressed, performing well at school, or playing with peers. General symptoms of major depression, regardless of age, include having a depressed or irritable mood for at least two weeks and have at least five of the following clinical signs and symptoms:
- Feeling sad or blue and/or irritable
- Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
- Significant increase or decrease in appetite, with or without significant weight loss, failing to gain weight appropriately or gaining excessive weight
- Change in sleep pattern: inability to sleep or excessive sleeping
- Physical agitation or retardation (i.e., restlessness or feeling slowed down)
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Trouble concentrating
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Children with depression may also experience the classic symptoms but may exhibit other symptoms as well, including
- poor school performance,
- persistent boredom,
- quickness to anger,
- frequent complaints of physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomachaches,
- more risk-taking behaviors and/or showing less concern for their own safety.
Examples of risk-taking behaviors in children include unsafe play, like climbing excessively high or running in the street.
Parents of children with depression often report noticing the following behavior changes in the child:
- Crying more often or more easily
- More irritable mood than usual or compared to others their age and gender
- Eating habits, sleeping habits, or weight change significantly up or down, or the child fails to gain weight appropriately for their age
- Unexplained physical complaints (for examples, headaches or abdominal pain)
- Spending more time alone, away from friends and family
- Becoming more "clingy" and more dependent on certain relationships. This is less common than social withdrawal.
- Overly pessimistic or exhibits excessive guilt or feelings of worthlessness
- Expressing thoughts about hurting him or herself or exhibiting reckless or other harmful behavior
- Young kids may act younger than their age or than they had previously (regress).
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