Depression in Children and Teens

It is important to recognize that depression can affect our children, especially those with learning disorders or with family histories of mental health disorders. Even among children who do not have these issues, the stress of school, life, and even too much time on screens can cause children to become depressed.

It's important to recognize that depression is not just sadness. When our children are sad, it is usually because of a situation in which they've experienced a loss (a pet, a friend, death in the family, moving, parents' divorce). Sadness in these situations is specific to those losses, lasts a reasonable period of time, and does not usually lead to other symptoms. Depression is usually more pervasive (sad in general), for a longer than expected period of time with no relief or improvement,

Depressive symptoms in children are sometimes manifested differently in children and teens than they are in adults. Here are some things to look for at different ages:

Depression in the Very Young

  • Regressing developmentally. For example, he or she may start talking baby talk again
  • Low energy
  • Loss of appetite, losing weight
  • Separation anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Doesn't like to play; refuses to play with friends
  • Sleep disruption; not sleeping at night, napping off schedule.

Depression in Children

  • Poor performance and indifference at school or extracurriculars; little or no effort put into activities, even those once enjoyed
  • Pervasive sadness
  • Irritability
  • Complaints of feeling lonely even among friends
  • Negative attitude or pessimism; complaints of being "bored"
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite.

Depression in Teens

  • Negative thinking and focusing on the negative (eg, a bad test grade means he or she is a failure; canceled plans mean everyone hates him or her)
  • Hopelessness
  • Becomes self-critical; talking about being stupid, ugly, worthless
  • Isolates and stops communicating with family and even friends
  • Increased irritability and anger
  • Starting to exhibit risky behavior.
  • Changes in self-care; may become obsessive with looking "perfect" or hygiene may take a hit
  • Diet changes - either binge and compulsively eating or skipping meals and undereating.

If you are not sure about your child's symptoms, call our office and discuss it with one of our experienced therapists. We'd be happy to consult with you and help you out. It is important to seek help if your child is struggling. Our therapists can determine the nature of the disorder and develop a treatment plan to help. That could include building coping skills, talking through irrational beliefs, and referrals for medication or other cutting-edge therapies.

Even in young children, any talk of self-harm or wanting to die should be taken seriously and you should seek professional help right away.

CALL NOW: (770) 415-0880

Marietta West Cobb Counseling Center, Inc.
707 Whitlock Avenue SW
Marietta, GA 30064