Depression in Children

Depression is more common in children than we lead ourselves to believe. Being unhappy or sad for a little while is not sign of depression, although this might lead to depression if the cause of unhappiness in the child persists.
The symptoms of depression in children may vary. In most cases, the symptoms are ignored by parents as, “acting out” or “teenage tantrum”.

Depression in children can be identified by the following symptoms:


  • Depressed or irritable mood
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school
  • Change in eating habits
  • Feeling angry or irritable
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling worthless or restless
  • Frequent sadness or crying
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities
  • Loss of energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.


Depression in children is broadly divided into 2 categories – major depression and Dysthymia.

Major depression doesn’t last more than two weeks and might be a recurrent phenomenon more than once during a child’s lifetime. The child may experience major depression after a traumatic event such as the death of a relative or friend. Dysthymia is a less severe but chronic form of depression that lasts for a longer period of time.

What can we do as a Parent?

The best thing the parents can do is to talk to their children and be as friendly as possible. Make time and sit and listen to your children. The problems, which might seem trivial to an adult, could be all encompassing for a child. Make them understand how the problem can be solved.

The best the thing a parent can do for a child is to provide a safe and secure environment to grow up in. If there are problems between the parents then it is advisable to solve it without letting the children know – not arguing or being rude to one another in front of them. If they come to know, then patiently discuss the problem with them.

Many children grow up without any coping skills these days. Since both the parents are working they suffer from guilt of not spending more time with their children and give into any and every demand of their children. They are also not taught about failure or how to deal with it. These situations might lead to depression in children.

Children should be encouraged to think independently. They should be taught how to solve problems on their own by using their intelligence. This also helps to build-up their self esteem which usually helps to keep the negative thoughts away. Making children responsible for their action also helps children to think positively and not fall prey to depression.

If your child shows any of the above signs for a considerable period (i.e. for more than 2 weeks), consult a psychologist. Counseling helps 99% of time. A child psychologist is better equipped to understand what is going on in a child’s mind and interpret his/her erratic behavior accordingly.

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