What is Childhood Depression? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

The depressive episode among children could badly impact their growth and development. Today, we’ll discuss what is childhood depression; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Childhood Depression? 

Childhood depression is much different than casual feeling down, upset, or moody. Just like adults, it is completely normal for kids to experience emotional fluctuation, sadness, and blue feeling. If the blue and upsetting feelings would last for more than two weeks, then it suggests an affective disorder like depression.

A depressive episode is not only the illness of adults; adolescents and children could also develop depression. Parents and caregivers usually misunderstand and fail to identify the symptoms of depressive episodes, and it goes untreated and undiagnosed.

According to an estimate, roundabout 3% of the kids in the US experience depressive episodes. The symptoms of sadness persistently would disturb their daily routine life and social activities. Depressive episode among children is a serious mental health issue, but it’s treatable if diagnosed timely.

Symptoms of Childhood Depression 

Children with depressive episodes experience a similar types of symptoms as adults and adolescents. But it’s difficult for them to express their emotions and feelings due to limited emotional intelligence and vocabulary. However, some of the main symptoms of childhood depression are as follows;

  • Suicidal thought
  • Difficulty in focusing and concentrating
  • Limited energy
  • Crying and weeping
  • Irritability and feelings of guilty anger
  • Worthlessness feelings
  • Hopelessness feelings
  • Low mood and sadness

It doesn’t that the children would experience all the symptoms at once; some of them would be more dominant than others.

Warning Signs of Childhood Depression

Children don’t know how to share their emotions and feelings, sometimes they’re reluctant. Some of the warning signs and emotional changes that caregivers and parents should keep in mind are as follows;

  • Dying and death thoughts
  • Complaining or self-critical comments or expressing negative thoughts
  • Declining performance in the school
  • Defiance
  • Lower focus and concentrating difficulty
  • Stomachaches, headaches, or other physical illnesses frequently
  • Vocal or emotional outburst
  • Limited or high sleep
  • Lower or higher appetite
  • Behavioral changes or temperament
  • Anger and irritable

Suicidal Risk

According to an estimate, suicide is the 3rd main cause of death among children aging from 5 to 14. Depressive episode among children causes suicidal behaviors and thoughts. If your child has a diagnosis of depression, then some of the warning signs that you should keep in mind are as follows;

  • Interests in lethal weapon
  • Substance use
  • Having accidents frequently
  • Hopeless feelings and talking about hopelessness
  • Dying, death, and suicidal talk
  • High problematic behaviors
  • Socially isolated
  • Various signs of depression

Causes Childhood Depression 

Depressive episode among children happens because of various factors or a combination of factors. Some of them are as follows;

  • Physical Health: kids with severe or chronic medical conditions would experience depressive episodes like obesity
  • Stressful Event: change in friends, school, and home would amplify the risk of developing a depressive episode
  • Environment: stressful and chaotic atmosphere at home would expose the kids to depressive and mood disorder
  • Family History: if any of the family members have depressive and mood disorders, then kids are vulnerable to developing this condition
  • Biochemical Imbalance: the imbalance of chemicals and hormones would impact how your brain works, and it amplifies the risk of depression

Risks of Childhood Depression 

The depressive episode among children is a severe mental health condition, but treatable. If left untreated, then kids would experience its symptoms for the rest of their lives. Some of the main complications are as follows;

  • Mood disorders
  • Depressive episodes
  • Higher risk of developing depression, aggravated, or prolonged
  • Aggravated symptoms
  • Behavioral and suicidal thoughts

Treatment of Childhood Depression 

The treatment plan for childhood depression comprises medication and therapy. Some children would need either one or both in combination. It’s not a lifelong treatment, and your doctor would decide when to stop the treatment.


FDA (Food and drug administration) has approved five antidepressants for children. Your doctor would decide the dosage and best medication depending on the severity of the symptoms. According to the HHS (health and human services), some of the recommended medicines for kids with a depressive disorder are as follows;

  • Prozac
  • Anafranil
  • Luvox
  • Lexapro
  • Zoloft

The rare side effects of these medicines are a higher risk of suicide. Parents and caregivers should carefully observe the behavior of the children, and they should consult with the doctor if they see any change in behavior.


Psychotherapy is the main treatment approach for treating childhood depression. It focuses on addressing the emotional issues that would amplify the risk of depressive disorder. Usually, psychologists would use CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). It encourages the person to share their feelings and emotions, making them recognize the troubling thoughts and replace them with positive ones.

  • Talk Therapy: it won’t be effective because kids have a limited vocabulary
  • Play Therapy: it employs toys for entertainment, and the kids would learn to channel their experiences and emotions
  • Art Therapy: it is a form of expression therapy and it employs artistic techniques like drawing and painting as a coping technique

Conclusion: What is Childhood Depression? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is childhood depression; its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we have realized that depressive disorder among children could badly impact their life. If you’re experiencing its symptoms among children, then you should discuss it with the doctor as soon as you can.