ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Child Depression and What Parents Can Do

Updated on May 25, 2012

Child depression is real

Many of us believe that being a child is synonymous with being happy, inquisitive and carefree. Children are commonly perceived as overly talkative, excessively curious and tirelessly playful individuals who love to ask questions and oftentimes say the darnedest things. This is generally true; however, children are people too, and experience almost the same things that adults go through from day to day.

While most children could be found frolicking, exploring their world and celebrating life in their own way, there are kids who are sullen and withdrawn, look distracted, and react to stimuli somewhat differently than others within their age group. There is a chance that they may be suffering from childhood depression.


What is child depression?

At least 5 in every 100 children suffer from child depression. Depression as a mental illness isn’t confined to adults exclusively. Children are also human after all, and can be prone to stress. If they are unable to handle stress, they may become emotional, introverted and filled with anxiety, resulting in depression.


Symptoms of Child Depression

Signs of child depression are closely similar to those of adult depression. However, because they are children, it is often difficult to tell whether they are simply acting their age, going through a stage, or already exhibiting abnormal behavior. Depending on the child, the symptoms of depression can come in different forms, but the most common tell-tale signs are:

  • Sadness or melancholy
  • Loss of enthusiasm in most activities
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Nightmares and sleep disorders
  • Refusal to go to school, an increase in school absences, a drop in academic performance
  • Social withdrawal (rejecting friends or wanting to be alone)
  • Aggressive behavior and emotional outbursts
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Frequent stomachaches, headaches or other physical complaints that occur for no apparent reason
  • Sudden change in physical activity, usually extreme (as when lethargy substitutes liveliness or hyperactivity replaces serenity)


Causes of Child Depression

Child depression can be caused by many things. The child's biological make-up, his upbringing, and the environment he is in are factors that can affect how a child reacts to stress. Specifically, these causes are classified into:

  • Genetics – some researches show that the likelihood of depression in a child increases when the family has a history of depression.
  • Learned attitudes – sometimes a child’s own personality traits and the values he has been taught by a parent can be agents of depression. If the parent is himself/herself depressed, or too critical and pessimistic, he/she may be passing on the same vibes to the child. Conversely, there are children who are melancholic by nature. In both instances, the chances of a child suffering depression later on are high.
  • Stressful event or traumatic experience – child abuse, death in the family, or separation of parents can bring about depression.
  • Brain chemistry – more often than not, depression is attributed to chemical imbalance in the brain, and this chemical imbalance is itself brought about by the other causes mentioned previously: genetics, learned attitudes or stressful event.


What you can do as a parent

Understanding the reasons behind what is happening is always the first step to dealing with an issue. So as a parent, before everything else, find out the cause of your child’s depression. From there, you can make an informed decision on what to do next and how to help with your child’s problem.

However, it is important to always remember to tread with caution when administering treatment, especially because the patient is a child. Making the wrong move may do more damage than good, and can scar the child for life, often with irreversible consequences.

Some parents believe that science is the cure to all ailments, and may rely on drugs and medicine to “stifle” depression. But for a child, medication is generally frowned upon and regarded as a last resort, as there are side-effects on the child’s body and mind that both he and the parents may not be able to handle later on.

Counseling or therapy is by far the best choice, but the whole family has to be involved. A concerted effort on the part of parents, siblings and also other relatives that the child specially comes into contact with often is crucial in the child’s healing. They are seen as the ultimate support group, and can do more wonders than even the best psychotherapist in the world.

Still, as they say, prevention is the best cure. To start with, encourage your child to eat right, engage in wholesome play or sports, and have enough rest and sleep to guarantee a healthy mind and body. As your child grows, pressures mount and he will encounter stress, yet you should never make light of it! A child always thinks that what he’s going through is unique to him and therefore important, but that you will always have a ready answer no matter what. Be honest and reassuring, and if you suspect that he may be experiencing depression, talk to him about it openly. Communication is vital in every relationship, and that of parent-child is no exception.

If you feel that you need more help in raising your child, seek professional help or join a parenting class or lecture. Parenting is a tough job, but for our children, we will do anything!

Do you think your child needs help?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      5 years ago from Australia

      As a teacher I am constantly seeing children spending more time in care, some up to 70 hours a week and teachers who are constantly putting children down. It breaks my heart to see children with such low self esteem that they feel they are not good at anything, no body likes them and to see 3 year old children bullying. But I can see where it all stems from - they are being bullied by adults constantly. I have seen an increase over my years of teaching in adults talking about anti depressants for children which at first shocked me, children depressed? And it shocked me even more they would put a small child on antidepressants. Often circumstances can make a huge difference in the childs life, as they have not developed coping mechanisms like adults have and do not know how to deal with their emotions. Too often we discipline children without asking why they did a behaviour - the earlier we teach children to talk about their feelings the better. If you build a strong bond where discussion is the norm, your child may be able to tell you their teacher shouts at them and you may be available to actually listen. It also teaches children a crucial skill so if they are pre-dispositioned towards depression in later life, they will be able to talk about it and express their emotions better then someone who wasn't taught this as a child.

    • Literary Geisha profile imageAUTHOR

      Literary Geisha 

      7 years ago from Philippines

      thanks for reading Figure! especially when they're kids, our children need as much guidance as we can give them.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful article. Very helpful for ANY parent, whether your child is currently depressed or not. All of us parents should be watching for signs. Thanks so much!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)