Signs of Childhood Depression

Sometimes the signs of depression are obvious--a child may talk about his feelings and show his depression overtly. At other times, the signs are subtle. A child may be very lonely and sad but may compensate by being especially outgoing or cooperative with others. Excessive anger and irritability can also be signs of depression.

Our best advice is to be observant of your children all the time and to pay special attention to changes that persist or seem unnatural.

Behavioral Changes

  • Reclusion
  • Loss of interest in friends
  • Loss of interest in activities the child has enjoyed
  • Negative point of view
  • Frequent thoughts of death
  • Expressions of hopelessness
  • Suicidal intentions
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Anger or irritability

Physiological Changes

  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Serious loss of or increase in appetite
  • Constant fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate

These can also be symptoms of substance abuse; depression is often accompanied by alcohol or drug use.

The symptoms can appear gradually or over just a few days. They can be triggered by an event, such as a breakup with a boyfriend, the death of a pet or an embarrassing experience at school.