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Depression in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What is depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that causes your child to feel sad or hopeless. These feelings do not go away. Depression may cause your child to lose interest in things he or she used to enjoy. These feelings may interfere with your child's daily life. Your child may also be angry, do poorly in school, become isolated, or have pain.

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

What causes or increases my child's risk for depression?

Depression may be caused by changes in the brain chemicals that affect your child's mood. Your child's risk for depression may be higher if he or she has any of the following:

How is depression diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will start screening your child for depression at 12 years of age. The provider will ask about signs that you or others, such as teachers, have noticed. Tell the provider how long you have noticed the signs. The provider will also ask if any family members have depression. Tell the provider about any stressful events in your child's life. Also tell the provider about your child's health and any medicines he or she takes. The provider may ask how depression is affecting your child at home, school, or work.

How is depression treated?

Your child's healthcare provider will help you and your child develop a treatment plan. The provider will ask your child to make plans for coping at home, school, and around friends. The plan may include an emergency contact in case your child feels like hurting himself or herself, or others. It may also include regular exercise, good nutrition, and any of the following:

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What can I do to help and support my child?

The following resources are available at any time, if needed:

Where can I find more information or support?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I call my child's therapist or doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.