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Can Children Suffer From Depression?

Updated on November 11, 2009
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Depression effects about 14 million adults each year, or 1 in every 6 or 7 adults at some point in their life. That is a big statistic. What is more shocking is the number of children that suffer from depression - 2.5% of children in the U.S. Yes, children can suffer from depression.

It is normal for everyone to have bad days or feel sad off and on. It is normal for a child to be upset over something that happened with a friend or a bad grade. When these feelings last for weeks at a time, depression could be the cause. Depression typically revolves around feelings of sadness, but being sad can cause other symptoms. Frequently a parent might not notice how sad their child is, but if they notice other symptoms of depression it will help them determine if they need to be seen by a doctor. According to WebMD, here are some symptoms to look for in your child.

  • being irritable or angry
  • feeling sad or hopeless for an extended period
  • not wanting to play with friends
  • feeling as if no one likes them
  • changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • low energy or tiredness
  • low self esteem
  • frequent crying
  • feeling worthless
  • complaining of a headache or stomach ache when they are not sick
  • trouble concentrating

Each child is different and may or may not have all these symptoms. It is important for parents to realize that depression can be real in children too. Many times a young child will suffer from anxiety and then it becomes depression as they get older. Younger children will sometimes mask depression by acting out and being angry. Puberty causes children's hormones to get out of whack and can trigger depression.

Depression can be a very serious disease and if it is left untreated, it can cause life long problems, possibly even suicide, or suicide attempts. Childhood depression can be treated with medicine and /or therapy. Just because a child suffers from depression, doesn't mean he always will; though he might suffer from it at some point as an adult too. Depression can be triggered by a certain event, happen alongside an illness or come about for no obvious reason. The reasons don't necessarily matter though. If you think your child is suffering from depression, please get her the help she needs to overcome it. Childhood depression is a fact, so take it seriously if your child is faced with it.


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    • Rebecca2904 profile image

      Rebecca 5 years ago

      Good hub on a very important topic! I think people just tend to assume that all children are happy all the time and would never put children and depression in the same sentence. Which is a shame, I think, because I think a lot of children are probably suffering in silence because of this. I've also published a hub on depression in children and, I hope you don't mind, I've posted a link to your hub at the bottom as I think it's important to raise as much awareness for this topic as possible.

    • Shelbie Leigh profile image

      Shelbie Leigh 8 years ago from Versailles, Missouri

      wow, I never really realized that little kids can be depressed...I'm an elementary school tutor, and I will now keep this in perspective. Thanks

    • profile image

      SassySouthern 8 years ago

      Bless you for bringing up this very important topic. I have lived with it since childhood. I was 5 years old the first I tried sucide. And my mother was bi polar.

    • vijaylvs profile image

      vijaylvs 8 years ago

      The collection is more informative for the parents. Really we often get suddenly angry for a small matter which can be avoided. Your hub educates the people to think about before rebuking our children and younger. Thanks for your efforts.

    • JBrett profile image

      JBrett 8 years ago

      Excellent information on Childhood depression. More people need to be aware that children can suffer too.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      I agree with every word and thank you for writing this great information.

    • chefaija profile image

      chefaija 8 years ago

      good info my daughter is a cutter and suffers from depression

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Good info. In children, irritability can be the presenting symptom over lethargy,crying or others we "typically" associate with adult depression.

      The scary thing is the meds that work in adults are (or can be) very risky in kids. So it's a balancing act.

      But still a very real problem.

      Thanks for providing a guide for parents. MM

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thanks for bringing me up to speed on this disease, thanks for sharing the info. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • profile image

      bethgould 8 years ago

      I'm glad you posted this. My 16 year old daughter was finally diagnosed with depression (more common than not, in girls with ADHD) when she was 12, and I know that it started several years before that. Her pediatrician wouldn't hear it. Then we moved across the country, and her new pediatrician brought it up immediately!

    • proudgrandpa profile image

      proudgrandpa 8 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Good Hub-Good Mom,

      I applaud you for raising this point. I think we sometimes only look for these symptoms in the teen years. You are so in tune with your kids and I think that is the main ingredient in noticing the changes in behavior. I just wrote a quote in my blog,, about youth and happiness that is apropos. Kids are so perceptive and they tend to take responsibility for stuff that doesn't belong to them. Thanks again, NEIL