Depression is a psychiatric disorder that can effect children and
youth with chronic feelings of sadness or worthlessness. For some
children, situational depression, or unhappiness triggered by
particular life events (death, divorce, injury) is not uncommon
in children, but it normally goes away when circumstances change.
A child with depression does not recover when events change;
sadness, moodiness and/or lack of interest in things she used to
enjoy will persist.
Depression will often interfere with all aspects of a child’s
life, resulting in absences from school, trouble socializing with
friends and peers, and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts.
Depression is diagnosed when negative feelings, lack of interest
in daily activities, and physical symptoms like fatigue and
insomnia persist for at least 2 weeks. Onset is usually in
adolescence, and it is diagnosed about twice as often in girls
than in boys. Signs include:
For accurate diagnosis, a child
must display some of the aforementioned symptoms for at least 2
weeks. These symptoms must be a distinct shift from previous
behavior. A clinician will also need to rule out other
causes for these symptoms, including substance abuse, medical
conditions like diabetes and hypothyroidism, and other
psychiatric disorders. The condition must significantly interfere
with day-to-day activities.
Children who have negative
temperaments are often more likely to develop depression. Having
another major disorder or a chronic or disabling medical
condition also makes children more likely to develop depression.
Having a parent who is depressed is the single most important
risk factor for a child becoming depressed. Depressed parents’
behavior can be a factor in children’s depression, as these
parents may be less able to respond appropriately to their
children’s emotional needs.
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If you or a loved one is in immediate crisis, please call 911
or visit the nearest emergency room.
The UACF Hope Line is a message system for parents and caregivers
that provides resources and connections to individuals in your
community that may be able to assist you in finding appropriate
support services for your child’s mental health needs. Feel free
to leave a message on the UACF Hope Line and your call will be
returned as promptly as possible.