Depression in Children and Teens
If you are having any symptoms or have any questions, please call 811 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day.
Get emergency care if you or a loved one has serious thoughts of suicide or harming others.
How are the symptoms of depression different for children and teens?
Children and teens might not show all of the usual symptoms of depression seen in adults, but they will often have some of them. Younger children who are depressed may:
- Have a poor appetite and/or weight loss
- Feel sad or hopeless
- Not enjoy playing as much as usual
- Worry more
Older children who are depressed may:
- Be angry (lose their temper) or anxious
- Have changes in appetite (eating more than usual, or eating less)
- Not want to go to school or other social activities
- Seem less confident or feel like they can’t do anything right
If you notice these signs every day for several weeks, it might mean your child is depressed.
Why do young people get depressed?
Many things can cause depression, including genetics, medical conditions, and life events. The following are some of the reasons children and teens might get depressed:
- The family moves to a new place to live
- The child has to change to a new school
- A pet, friend, or family member dies
- Someone in the family is very sick
- The child experiences the hormonal changes of puberty
- Behavior problems or conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
What should I do if I think my child is depressed?
Ask your child about their thoughts and feelings. It may also be a good idea to contact your healthcare provider about your child’s behavior and your concerns about their depression. In most cases, taking your child to your healthcare provider is a good idea. A medical problem may be causing the depression. Your healthcare provider may want to give your child a general medical check-up.
What can be done to help depressed children and teens?
Most depressed children and teens should talk to a counselor, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist about what is making them feel the way they are feeling. Family counseling can help everyone in the family. Your family healthcare provider can refer you and your child to someone for counseling. Most depressed children and teens do best when they get both counseling and medicine.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Mental Health Mobile Crisis Line (Nova Scotia)
Toll Free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 1-888-429-8167
Island Helpline (Prince Edward Island)
Toll free, 24 hours a day 1-800-218-2885
Public Health Agency of Canada
Canadian Mental Health Association
Depression in Children and Adolescents by SE Son M.D. and JT Kirchner, D.O. (11/15/00, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20001115/2297.html )
Childhood and Adolescent Depression by SK Bhatia, M.D., and SC Bhatia, M.D. (01/01/07, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20070101/73.html )