10 Key Signs of Depression in Children


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3.2% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with depression. While feeling sad on occasion is nothing to worry about, depression is a serious diagnosis that requires intervention. 

Depression can leave your child feeling sad, hopeless, and lonely. Depression can cause a loss of energy, decreased appetite, and a lack of interest in hobbies. 

Because depression is such a serious diagnosis, how can you tell if your child is experiencing depression or just feeling down?

Keep reading to learn more about the causes of depression in children, the signs of depression, and how to treat childhood depression. 

Causes of Depression in Children

Many different factors can contribute to depression in children. Some of the most common are their environment, family relationships, illness, stress, genetics, and chemical disturbances in the brain.

Depression is often caused by a combination of these factors. Life changes, such as a death in the family, moving to a new home, or bullying, can also be a cause. 

Signs of Depression in Children 

If you suspect that your child may be experiencing depression, it is important to know the different signs. Because every child is different, they may show signs in a different way than other children. 

Some children may mask their depression in ways that are not obvious. If you ever have questions about your child’s behavior, you should always talk to a professional. 

Here are some of the common signs of depression in children: 

Decreased Interest in Hobbies

If your child has a hobby that they are passionate about, it may be a red flag if they no longer want to participate in that hobby. 

When children become depressed, they often withdraw and find little pleasure in hobbies. This could range from no longer watching their favorite TV show to not wanting to participate in their next sports game. 

Less Interaction With Friends and Family

All children go through phases where their relationships change. For example, when your child becomes a teenager, they may withdraw from the family and spend more time in their bedroom.

While some changes are normal, others are not. If you notice that your child no longer wants to interact with you or their friends, it could be  a sign that something is wrong. 

Children withdraw from others when they want to be alone, feel like they don’t belong, feel worthless, or feel like no one understands them. 

Mood Changes

Another sign of childhood depression is sudden mood changes. If your child is generally happy but all of a sudden seems angry or sad all the time, it could be depression. 

Depressed children are more likely to lash out or overreact to a situation. 

Frequent Sadness

Feeling sad is something that all children will experience at some point. If your child is sad because of an isolated event, it could be nothing to worry about. But, if your child is feeling sad regularly, it could be a sign of depression. 

Try to talk to your child when they are experiencing sadness. If the sadness does not go away, it could be time to seek help. 

Little Energy

Depression can cause children to have little energy, even if they are getting enough sleep. If your child seems tired, slow, or displays a lack of energy, they may be experiencing depression. 

Decreased Self Esteem

Children that experience depression are more likely to develop low self-esteem. If your child tends to doubt themself, blames others for their mistakes, or has social anxiety, they may have low self-esteem. 

Children with low self-esteem believe that something is wrong with them and they are not good enough for others. 

Difficulty Concentrating

Is your child having a difficult time completing tasks? If so, it could be a sign of depression. Because depression may cause your child to feel sad, lonely, or angry, they may not be able to concentrate on what is going on around them. 

More Sensitivity to Rejection 

If your child is already feeling down, rejection may be harder than normal to handle. Children that are experiencing depression can be upset by situations that may not seem hurtful to the average person. 

Trouble at School

Is your child all of a sudden having a hard time at school? Depression can lead to a lack of interest in completing schoolwork, issues paying attention, missing school, or no longer caring about school. 

Keep in mind that some grade fluctuations are normal and may not be cause for concern. 

Talking About Death or Suicide 

If your child is talking about death or suicide, you must get them help immediately. If you believe that your child is suicidal, call the national helpline

Be sure to listen to your child to show that you care. You want your child to feel heard and understood. In addition to listening to your child, contact their psychologist or doctor right away. 

How To Treat Child Depression 

If you have noticed that your child is showing signs of depression, you may be wondering how depression in children is treated. The first thing you should do is talk to your child’s pediatrician or seek help from a therapist or psychologist. 

Your child’s pediatrician can help rule out other conditions such as diabetes, anemia, and concussion. To diagnose your child with depression, a healthcare provider will do a mental health evaluation on your child.

Is Your Child Showing Signs of Depression?

While it is normal for children to feel sad at times, they should not feel depressed. If you notice these symptoms of depression in children, talk to their doctor. While depression in children can be scary, there is help available. 

Do you currently live in the Minneapolis area and believe that your child is experiencing depression? If so, contact us today to speak with a professional or schedule an appointment.