Recognizing signs of depression in kids

Mike Francis

It’s not unusual for a child to feel sad and helpless. But if the feelings persist or become extreme, the child may be depressed. And a depressed child should meet with a professional.

How do you tell when a child’s sadness becomes something more?

Consider some of the symptoms described by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Having a hard time paying attention
  • Feeling worthless, sad or irritable much of the time
  • Losing interest in doing fun things
  • Hurting him or herself

Not every depressed child shows these symptoms. As the CDC notes, depression may be mislabeled as laziness, because it causes a person to become unmotivated.

Treatment is essential

Depression is an illness that should be treated. Treatment may involve individual and family therapy, and medication. Parents should seek help from a mental health professional who is skilled in diagnosing and treating depression in young people.

The stakes are high. Some depressed children, if not treated, will proceed toward taking their own lives. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 and 24. It’s a challenging subject to talk about, but talking is an important step toward preventing suicide.

You can find a Providence professional in our directory. There are also resources about childhood depression and suicide prevention from the CDC website.

Graphic: Recognized the signs and symptoms of depression in children.

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