Childhood Depression

It is not only adults that become depressed. Depression is an illness that can effect children and adolescents and interferes with their ability to function. It is estimated that at any given point in time that about 5 percent of children and adolescents in the general population suffer from depression. Childhood depression can be effectively treated. Children who are under stress, who have experienced a loss, or who have learning disorders, attention disorders, or anxiety are at high risk for depression. The behavior of depressed children may look different from that of depressed adults.

Some of signs of depression in children and adolescents are:

  • Persistent sadness or crying
  • Social isolation, withdraws from friends
  • A significant change in sleeping or eating habits
  • Frequent physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches
  • Low self esteem
  • Excessive guilt
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Increased irritability, anger or agitation
  • Thoughts or expressions of death, suicide or self destructive behavior.

Some facts about childhood depression.

  • It is estimated that one in every 33 children ages 5 to twelve and one in every eight adolescents suffer from depression at any given time.
  • Children under the age of five can suffer from depression although there is not a good estimate of how prevalent it is.
  • Treatment of major depression is as effective for children and adolescents as it is for adults.
  • Younger children who develop depression are likely to have a family history of the disorder.

Depression is a treatable disorder. The early diagnosis and treatment of depression in children is essential. Children who show symptoms of depression should be referred to a mental health professional.

The Childhood Depression Awareness Day campaign occurs in May of each year to increase public awareness of childhood depression. For more information visit the National Mental Health Association web site.

Childhood Depression Links: