FACT SHEET: Child Depression

Is your child regularly sad? Is your child not his or her regular self?  The fact is children can become depressed too.   When a child is depressed it affects their ability to feel, think and behave in normal ways.  Child depression often goes unrecognized.  This is because child depression is often display differently than those of depressed adults.

Some Common Signs of Child Depression:

  • Persistent Sadness
  • Loss of enjoyment in activities that historically were pleasurable
  • Increase in activities or behaviors that produce negative outcomes
  • Increased negativity and/or angry outbursts
  • Increased complaints of physical illness such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Poor school performance and/or increased desire to avoid school
  • Low energy, persistent boredom, poor concentration
  • Significant changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Ongoing or increase in negative peer/ friendship experiences

There is reason for a parent/gaurdian to be concerned when their child’s mood and behaviors are negatively impacting relationships, school performance and other life activities. Parents of depressed children often share things like: My child has become more irritable, sullen and quiet.  My child gets easily angry.  My child has lost interest in activities that were once enjoyed and sought out.  My relationship with my child is often negative and there is little pleasure in it.  My child often cries and easily has hurt feelings.  My child reports playing alone at school and not having friends.  My child refuses to talk and isolates.  My child has expressed hating him/herself and wanting to die.  My child often says they hate me.

Children who are depressed can often find themselves increasingly getting in trouble at home and at school.  These behaviors are often not seen as the result of depression by adults.   A depressed child who is disruptive in class, not focusing on schoolwork and indifferent to consequences can be mislabeled as a bad child rather than a child who is sad.

It is important for a child who is struggling to be evaluated, assessed and to receive appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.  While everyone feels sad at times, chronic depression ends up affecting a child’s self esteem, academic success and social competence.  Depression tends to get worse if not treated effectively.  Negative moods tend to create negative behaviors that then generate negative responses from others, which perpetuates the problem.  Chronic negativity can alter brain functioning, which can have lasting consequences. Research has shown that when depressed children go untreated they have an increased risk of experiencing a lifetime of depression.

Always seek a qualified mental health provider or medical doctor who is trained to evaluate and make treatment recommendations.  A competent mental health professional will do a thorough job of gathering all the information necessary to determine what is likely causing a child’s problem.

Michael Webb & Morag Webb are qualified licensed counselors.  Their offices are located in Newport Beach, CA. They are able to assess your situation and make treatment recommendations for child depression. If a child is diagnosed with child depression, the recommended treatment may include one or more of the following: play therapy, family therapy, parenting classes, group therapy, medication evaluation, psychological testing, referral to additional resources.  The most important thing for a child who suffers from child depression is to get them feeling better so they can continue to develop physically, emotionally and socially in healthy ways.

DISCLAIMER: When there is a mental health concern or problem, accessing information on a website should never take the place of meeting with a mental health professional. The material in this fact sheet is information only and is not personal mental health advice. If you suspect you or another person is suffering from a mental health condition, get help by calling and meeting with a qualified mental health provider. In the event of a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital or urgent care center.

Contact Webb Counseling to discuss your situation.