Children and teens can develop depression, just like adults. Childhood depression is a sad or irritable mood that lasts for at least several days and causes problems in a child or teen’s normal activities, such as school, social life, and relationships with family and peers. About five percent of children and adolescents experience depression at any point in time, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).

It is important to treat depression early rather than assume that it will go away on its own. Without treatment, childhood depression may last longer and can worsen. Knowing the symptoms your child could experience will help to determine how to proceed with treatment options.

Symptoms of depression in children and teens include

  • frequent sadness, or crying, or constant irritability;
  • loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable;
  • lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, or making choices;
  • feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt;
  • withdrawing from friends and family;
  • a marked change in weight or eating, up or down;
  • complaints of stomachaches and/or headaches when no physical cause can be found;
  • frequent absences from school or a drop in school performance;
  • sleeping too little at night or too much during the day; and
  • thoughts of death or suicide and/or self-destructive behavior.