Childhood Depression

Getting Help

You can help your child get the treatment he or she needs. If your child is showing signs of depression or mania:
  • Talk with your child about how he or she is feeling.
  • Keep the lines of communication open between you and your child. 
  • Take note of the behaviors or other symptoms that worry you.
  • Monitor how long the behaviors have been going on, how often they occur, and how severe they seem to be.
  • Get help. Contact your family doctor, local mental health center, or county health offices for treatment options. You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) National Mental Health Information Center at 1-800-789-2647.

Diagnosing Childhood Depression

In order to make a diagnosis of depression in children, the healthcare provider will ask a number of questions and perform a complete physical exam. He or she will also evaluate the child's:
  • Family situation
  • Emotional maturity
  • Ability to cope with illness and treatment
  • Age and state of development
  • Self-esteem and prior experience with illness.
Childhood depression and adult depression are different illnesses due to the developmental issues that children face. Children experience depression differently, and they may show different symptoms. However, if your child is showing four or more of these symptoms explained above for longer than two weeks, he or she may be suffering from childhood depression.
Keep in mind that some of these signs can occur in response to normal developmental stages; therefore, it is important to determine whether they are related to depression or a developmental stage. For example, a child may be sad in response to trauma, and the sadness usually lasts a short time.
(Click Diagnosing Childhood Depression for more information.)
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