Depression in Children

Depression in Children Summary
Childhood depression can interfere with social activities, interests, schoolwork and family life. Symptoms and signs include anger, social withdrawal, vocal outbursts, fatigue, physical complaints, and thoughts of suicide. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
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Depression in children facts

  • Depression is a condition beyond normal sadness that can significantly interfere with the child's ability to function.
  • Depression affects about 2% of preschool and school-age children.
  • Depression in children does not have one single cause but rather a number of biological, psychological, and environmental risk factors that contribute to its development.
  • General symptoms of depression, regardless of age, include having a depressed or irritable mood for at least two weeks and having at least five clinical signs and symptoms.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth 10-24 years of age.
  • In order to diagnose depression, a health-care professional will likely conduct or refer for an extensive medical interview and physical examination and ask standard mental-health questions.
  • Treatment for childhood depression may include addressing any medical conditions that cause or worsen the condition. It can also include lifestyle adjustments, psychotherapy, and, for moderate to severe depression, medication.
  • Interpersonal therapy (ITP) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are the major approaches commonly used to treat childhood depression.
  • About 60% of children who take antidepressant medications get better. It may take anywhere from one to six weeks of taking medication at its effective dose to start feeling better.
  • Childhood depression is a risk factor for developing a number of other mental-health symptoms and disorders.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States in people over 5 years of age.
  • Attempts at prevention of childhood depression tend to address risk factors, strengthen protective factors, and use approaches that are appropriate for the child's developmental level.
  • Family members and friends are advised to seek mental-health evaluation and treatment for the depressed child.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/21/2014