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Depressive Disorder in Children


A depressive disorder is a medical condition. It is normal for your child to feel sad, irritatable, or hopeless sometimes. A depressive disorder is a condition that causes your child to have these feelings for weeks, months, or longer. Your child's feelings may interfere with his or her normal activities. You may feel that your child is being disrespectful or has a bad attitude. Do not wait for your child's feelings to go away. A depressive disorder can be treated. Treatment can help your child feel better.


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

  • Your child has done something on purpose to hurt himself or herself.
  • Your child talks about or tries to commit suicide.

Call your child's therapist or doctor if:

  • Your child's symptoms do not improve.
  • You cannot take your child to his or her next appointment.
  • Your child has new symptoms.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Help your child:

  • Talk to your child about his or her mood. Your child may ignore you or deny that there is anything wrong. Talk to your child anyway.
  • Be patient with your child. Do not become angry because of your child's irritable or grumpy mood.
  • Spend time with your child. Play a game, watch a movie, cook, or make a craft with your child. Encourage positive moods, enjoyment, and relaxation in your child by spending time with him or her.
  • Take your child to all appointments. A depressive disorder is treatable with the correct help. Your child can feel better with treatment.
  • Encourage healthy eating and sleeping habits. Make sure your child eats a variety of healthy foods. Stick to a sleep schedule so he gets enough sleep. Your child may sleep better if his or her room is quiet and dark.
  • Make sure your child gets 1 hour of physical activity every day. Encourage your child to play sports or be active every day. You and your child can take a walk. Physical activity can reduce symptoms of depression.

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

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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.

Further information

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