Diagnose Depression in Children


About two percent of school-aged children and eight percent of adolescents experience depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). While the number of boys and girls who are affected by depression is almost equal in childhood, these statistics change as children get older. By the time children reach adolescence, twice as many girls as boys are diagnosed with the mood disorder.

How Can You Tell if Your Child is Depressed?

According to NAMI, the following signs and symptoms may indicate that your child is depressed, prompting you to take him or her to a doctor for evaluation:

  • • Feeling persistently sad or blue
  • • Talking about suicide or being better off dead
  • • Becoming suddenly much more irritable
  • • Having a marked deterioration in school or home functioning
  • • Reporting persistent physical complaints and/or making many visits to school nurses
  • • Failing to engage in previously pleasurable activities or interactions with friends
  • • Abusing substances

What Types of Treatment are Available for Children?

Similar to adults with depression, psychotherapy, or "talk therapy," as well as prescription antidepressant medications have been shown to be effective in treating depression in children and adolescents.

Before deciding to treat with prescription medications, it’s very important to learn more about the potential side effects of these medications. For example, in 2004 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a black box warning on antidepressants. This warning informs about the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions in a small percentage of people who take these medications.

Source: National Alliance on Mental Health

Photo by Rolfe K.


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