Depression in Children and Adolescents
Sadness in Normal Children
All children sometimes get sad. Such feelings usually pass, but not always.
- Grief is normal after the death of a family member, but it can last a long time and be very hard to overcome
- A difficult home or school situation can make a normal child miserable
- A child may feel things very deeply, get sad and cry easily
- Some children have a negative, more pessimistic disposition (temperament).
None of the above may be severe enough to qualify as a “psychiatric disorder,” but your child could still benefit from professional help.
What Is Clinical Depression (Depressive Disorder)?
Clinical depression is a serious psychiatric condition that interferes significantly with your child’s self-image, relationships and life functions. It is caused by a combination of biological and hereditary (nature) and environmental (nurture) factors.
What Are the Symptoms of Depressive Disorder?
Clinical Depression in Children. If your child is depressed, you may recognize some or all of the following:
- Your child looks and feels very sad most of the time
- He cries easily and often during the day
- She looks listless and tired
- He complains constantly about feeling bored
- She withdraws from friends
- Academic performance suffers notably
- Sleep and appetite may be poor.
Clinical Depression in Adolescents. Adolescent depression is usually a continuation of the condition in childhood. If the first episode of depression occurs in adolescence, the symptoms are similar to those seen in adult depression. The teenagers are withdrawn, irritable and sleep poorly. Their grades drop, and they may even stop going to school. Some turn to drugs to relieve the way they feel.
Episodes of depression in children and adolescents may pass or last a long time.