24 Hour Crisis
& Suicide Hotline
(317) 251-7575 or
Factsheet: Depression in Children
Depression is more than just “feeling blue” or having a bad day. And it’s
different from feelings of grief or sorrow that follow a major loss, such as a death in the
family. It’s not a personal weakness or a character flaw. Children and teens with
clinical depression cannot simply “snap out of it.”
Depression is a serious health problem that affects feelings, thoughts and actions, and
can appear as a physical illness. As many as one in eight teens and one in 33 children
have clinical depression. Fortunately, depression in youth is treatable.
Signs of Depression
- Persistent sadness
- Withdrawal from family, friends and activities that were once enjoyed
- Increased irritability or agitation
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits (e.g., significant weight loss,
insomnia, excessive sleep)
- Frequent physical complaints, such as headaches and stomachaches
- Lack of enthusiasm or motivation
- Decreased energy level and chronic fatigue
- Play that involves excessive aggression toward self or others, or that
involves persistently sad themes
- Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
What Can Parents and Other Adults Do if They Suspect a Child May Have Depression?
- Know the warning signs for depression, and note the duration,
frequency and severity of troubling behavior.
- Get accurate information from libraries, hotlines, the Internet
and other sources.
- Take the child to see a mental health professional or doctor for
evaluation and diagnosis if he or she is exhibiting several of the
warning signs. The evaluation may include psychological testing, laboratory
tests and consultation with other specialists.
- Ask questions about treatments and services. A comprehensive treatment
plan may include psychotherapy, ongoing evaluation and, in some cases,
medication. Optimally, the treatment plan is developed with the family,
and whenever possible, the child.
- Talk to other families in your community or find a family network
For More Information:
For help finding treatment, support groups, medication information, help paying for your medications,
your local Mental Health America affiliate, and other mental health-related services in your community,
please contact us.
If you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek
help immediately. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24 hour
crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.
Page last updated: 3/6/2009
P.O. Box 51
Seymour, IN 47274
Phone: (812) 522-3480
Fax: (812) 524-8176