Childhood Depression symptoms and treatments

Depression is defined as brain disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. For Childhood or adolescent Depression it is described as an illness when the feelings of depression persist and interfere with a child or adolescent's ability to function for a longer period of time.

To start the journey of recognizing and treating Childhood/ adolescent depression(going forward referred to as CAD) First, we will look at the processes in the United Sates. To diagnose depression, a health-care professional will likely perform or refer for a thorough medical assessment and physical examination and ask standard mental-health questions. Here are some symptoms or signs of CAD.

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
  • Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
  • Hopelessness
  • Persistent boredom; low energy
  • Social isolation, poor communication
  • Low self-esteem and guilt
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
  • Poor concentration
  • A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Talk of or efforts to run away from home
  • Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-destructive behavior
image source by : Image Source: (and listed on

Treatment for childhood depression may include addressing any medical conditions that caused or worsened the condition. It can also involve lifestyle adjustments, psychotherapy, and, for moderate to severe depression, medication. Interpersonal therapy (ITP) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are the major approaches commonly used to treat childhood depression.

In the UK, how they recognize CAD, is by watching for the following symptoms : severe or persistent low mood, easily cries, irritability and extreme reactions to sad situations . There are several treatment options, including counselling services for young people, family therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a type of talking therapy. A specialist may also consider antidepressant medication, but only in severe cases. This differs from the U.S.A. only slightly as the UK and other European countries would like to avoid medications if at all possible.

In Canada, they warn parents of the fact that CAD can be miss diagnosed, as other mood and behavioral disorders have similar symptoms. They also agree with the UK and USA in what to watch for in children and have similar treatment options. They also add some additional tips to watch for in distinguishing between CAD, ODD, ADHD and etc.

Tips for distinguishing Between Bipolar Disorder and Other Disorders Suspect bipolar disorder instead of ADHD if: • Disruptive behaviors appear later in life (after 10 years of age) • Disruptive behaviors come and go and tend to occur with mood changes • The child has periods of exaggerated elation, depression, no need for sleep, and inappropriate sexual behaviors • The child has severe mood swings, temper outbursts, or rages • The child has hallucinations or delusions • There is a strong family history of bipolar disorder.

Suspect bipolar disorder instead of childhood depression if: • The child experiences mania as well as depression • The depressive episodes are severe rather than mild or moderate

Suspect bipolar disorder instead of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder (CD) if: • Disruptive behaviors only occur when the child is having a manic or depressive episode • Disruptive behaviors disappear when the mood symptoms improve • Disruptive behaviors only occur periodically • The child sleeps only a few hours at night and is not tired the next day • The child has hallucinations or delusions • There is a strong family history of bipolar disorder

The most preferred treatment method includes teaching the children that they are not to blame for their symptoms, and they do not cause their symptoms. They share responsibility for the management of their symptoms with their parents and treatment team. Therapy attempts to provide adolescents with the tools to help them manage their symptoms, teach them about CAD, why they need treatment, take medications (if prescribed), learn coping mechanisms, and make healthy choices about their thoughts and behaviors.

Some of these scheduled treatment sessions include: anger management, problem solving (stop-think-plan- check exercise), distinguish symptoms from self and learn about medications, responsibility (thinking feeling doing exercise) non-verbal communication (thoughts and feelings charades) Verbal communication (human knot, empathetic listening, discuss helpful versus non-helpful communication, practice giving clear instructions) and review what is learned.

Photo by: BY LUCY GILKISON ON AUGUST 9, 2012 ·

Where can families get information and support for childhood depression?

  • American Association of Suicidology----------- 202-237-2280
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention --------
  • Jason Foundation ---------
  • National Alliance for the Mentally Ill----2101 Wilson Boulevard Suite 302 Arlington, VA 22201------------HelpLine: 800-950-NAMI (6264)

Works Cited:

  • Title image source:
  • Photo by: BY LUCY GILKISON ON AUGUST 9, 2012
  • Adapted from: Boris Birmaher, M.D., New Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar Disorder. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, 2004
  • image source by : Image Source: (and listed on
  • Braddick, F., Carral, V., Jenkins, R., & Jané-Llopis, E. (2009). Child and Adolescent Mental Health in Europe: Infrastructures, Policy and Programmes. Luxembourg: European Communities.
  • by Tanya on June 17, 2015 in Health, Kids, Mental Health, Motherhood, Parenting, Safety, School
  • 4; Updated July 2013)


  • Invitation to the Human Life Span, Kathleen Stassen Berger, 2014
  • Bipolar disorder in Early Childhood and Early Adolescence Edited by Barbara Geller, MD and Melissa P. DelBello, MD, 02006
  • (Press, 2004.file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Bipolar-parentes-med-guide.pdf)
Created By
Britnei Evans

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