Depression In Children – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

4 min read

Written by Pradeep


Depression is a state of mood disorder that causes a persistent and more severe feeling of sadness and loss of interest. This mood disorder is not implied to just adults and teens. Children are also prone to depression. Continue reading to know more about the causes, symptoms and remedies regarding depression in children.
Childhood depression

What Is Depression?

About 2% of preschool and school age children are affected by depression. It can significantly hinder a child’s ability to function. Therefore, more often the signs of depression in the child are perceived as laziness and over aggressiveness. Normally, depression is a stage, which passes with time. Nevertheless, in some cases, clinical depression, if not detected and treated on time, can affect the child badly.

Signs And Symptoms Of Depression In Children

The symptoms of childhood depression may vary. Symptoms will depend on the child’s age, lifestyle and many other reasons. If your child shows these symptoms and it interferes with his normal social activities, interests, schoolwork etc. then it may indicate that your child is under depression. The signs and symptoms of childhood depression include:

  • Issues with appetite: The child shows over appetite or loss of appetite
  • Gain or lose weight excessively:The child either will not gain enough weight or become overweight irrespective of the appetite and intake of food
  • Issues with sleep pattern: The child will experience insomnia or will sleep excessively
  • Persevering physical issues: The child complaints persisting headache,stomachache, body ache, etc. without any relevant reason. These physical problems, also, will not go away even after treatment
  • Habitual mood swings: Frequent changes in the mood, sudden outbursts – from bitterness to irritation, aggressive behavior, and joy followed by anger and a feeling of worthlessness and guilt
  • Extreme tiredness: Child complains or shows extreme tiredness and eventually will lose interest to participate in events and activities at home, or play with friends, or from hobbies or other activities, the child was previously interested in
  • The child tends to cry more often without any reason
  • The child will be unable to concentrate
  • Social withdrawal
Causes Of Depression In Children

The causes of childhood depression are unknown. It usually does not have one specific cause. It could be a combination of any of the following factors:

  • Physical health: Depression can appear as a side effect of various infectious diseases like upper respiratory infection, pneumonia, etc
  • Life events: Depression in children is can also be attributed to severe or prolonged stress. The reason behind the stress can be death or serious illness of loved ones, broken home, separated parents, constant fight and conflicts between the parents, peers or pressure from the school, family instability etc. Likewise, if his friends always bully the child, he or she can be subjected to depression
  • Family history: If either the parents or any close members of the family have undergone depression during any phase of their life the child has more chance of experiencing depression
  • Environment: Sounds weird, but change is climate can induce depression in some children. Sudden variation in temperature and unexpected weather change, like sudden onset of winter can cause depression in children
  • Biochemical disturbance: Some children have noticeable changes in their brains with depression. The four main neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood are Serotonin, Dopamine, GABA and Norepinephrine. Imbalance of these neurotransmitters for some unknown reason, could trigger depression in childs

depressed child

Treating Depression In Children

Once the child shows signs of depression, never brush it off as his stubbornness or laziness. Compelling and punishing the child to do anything or trying to teach him to behave himself will worsen the depression in the child. Consult a child psychologist as soon as your child shows the signs of depression. He can find out the reasons of depression. He can plan medications and therapy (which usually involves antidepressant medicines and psychotherapy) to treat your child for childhood depression. The treatment will depend on the cause and age of the child. Along with this, you should take some measures to overcome this phase in your child. This includes:

  • Spend more time with the kid. Be very patient and try to have more quality time with him
  • Never do things that irritate the child
  • Encourage the child to do some physical activities. It is a good idea even if you also participate in physical activities so that eventually your child will start enjoying them
  • Give your child a secured atmosphere
  • Talk to the child patiently and find out if he is subjected to any kind of bullying or abuse
Why Treating Childhood Depression Is Important?

Although the childhood depression may resolve on its own (not in all cases, though) even if not treated, the child may experience it again. This time the impact can be worse. Therefore eliminating the root cause of depression through treatment is very important.

Can Depression In Children Be Prevented?

It is seen that children who have a family history of depression are more likely to experience depression themselves. Children whose parents suffer from depression tend to experience their first episode of depression much earlier than the children whose parents do not have such condition. Also children from families in which there are conflicts, fights or disturbance, are at a greater risk of depression. In order to prevent childhood depression it is imperative to decrease the risk factors and provide children with a secure and protective environment that is appropriate for their development.
Did your child exhibit any signs of childhood depression ? How did you deal with it? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.


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