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Depressive Disorder in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What is a depressive disorder?

A depressive disorder is a medical condition. It is normal for your child to feel sad, irritable, 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. Do not wait for your child's feelings to go away. A depressive disorder can be treated.

What are common signs and symptoms of depressive disorder?

Signs of a depressive disorder are seen almost daily. Your child may have any of the following:

What increases my child's risk for a depressive disorder?

How is a depressive disorder diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about signs that you or others, such as teachers, have noticed. Tell your child's healthcare provider how long you have noticed the signs. The provider will ask if any family members have depression. Tell the provider about any stressful events in your child's life. The provider may ask about your child's other health conditions or medicines your child takes. The provider may ask how the symptoms are affecting your child's relationships at home, school, or work.

How is a depressive disorder 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, work, 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:

What can I do to help my child?

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

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.