Introduction

Is Your Child Depressed?

The HealthCentral Editorial Team Apr 3rd, 2012 (updated Sep 26th, 2013)
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Frequent sadness or crying
Frequent sadness or crying

Does you child seem consistently sad? Is he or she crying for no apparent reason.

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Hopelessness
Hopelessness

Does your child seem hopeless? Depression is difficult to diagnose in children. Trust your parental instinct if something feels wrong or out of the ordinary. Seek medical attention if symptoms last longer than two weeks. A child psychiatrist should make the diagnosis. Trained and experienced in treating mental illness in kids, he or she is more likely to provide an accurate diagnosis than a pediatrician or a psychiatrist who specializes in adults. 

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Persistent low energy and boredom
Persistent low energy and boredom

Does your child seem withdrawn or timid?

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Social isolation, poor communication
Social isolation, poor communication

Does your child have no friends? Is she not engaging with her peers. An estimated two percent of chihldren under the age of 12 suffer from depression.

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Guilt and low self-esteem
Guilt and low self-esteem

Does your child seem extra sensitive? Keep an eye out for signs of low self-esteem. Is he pessimistic? Is she reluctant to try new things. Is he easily frustrated when posed with a challenge? "I can't do this." Does he make negative comments about himself?

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Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure

Is your child nervous? Does she fear rejection or failure? Reach out to teachers to get a better picture of your child's behavior at school. Does she have trouble making friends? Is she being bullied on the play ground?

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Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
Increased irritability, anger, or hostility

Children often act out because they haven't developed the vocabulary to talk about their low moods. Tantrums and yelling may be the only way they can express their feelings. Boys in particular may deny their feelings of sadness and may instead be moody and angry. If your child is persistently moody, he could really be depressed. Consult a child psychiatrist or doctor if you have any concerns.

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Difficulty with relationships
Difficulty with relationships

Does your child have difficulty making friends? Is he acting up at home and around siblings? The children most at risk for depression seem to come from unstable family backgrounds, where there's conflict. Children can pick up on things more than adult realize. 

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Frequent complaints of headaches or stomaches
Frequent complaints of headaches or stomaches

Studies have linked migraines to depression in children. Headaches can be a physical manifestation of tension.

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Poor performance in school
Poor performance in school

Are your child's grades slipping? Is he having trouble paying attention in class? Depression and ADHD share many of the same symptoms. Depressed children are more likely to have other conditions like ADHD and Anxiety. 

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Not eating, trouble sleeping
Not eating, trouble sleeping

Major changes to eating and sleeping patterns may be a sign of depression. Has your child lost his appetite? Is he eating less than usual? Spending lots of time in bed but with trouble getting to bed and waking up early is a common sign among depressed children.

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Talk or efforts to run away from home
Talk or efforts to run away from home

Has your child threatened to run away from home and packed his bags? This may be an expression of discontent.

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Decreased interest in favorite activities
Decreased interest in favorite activities

Does your child no longer like to watch his favorite cartoons? Has she stopped coloring pictures? Signs of depression in kids are usually displayed in changes to their normal behavior.