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"How can one spot depression in children?"

ZocdocAnswersHow can one spot depression in children?


It seems like a lot of the medical literature about depression is aimed at adults. I'm a mother of two, and I'm worried that my 10-year-old son is depressed. What are the symptoms of depression in a child?


This is an excellent question, and unfortunately one that cannot be adequately answered in a few paragraphs. Depression is a serious condition. In the USA, depression is often treated by the primary care physicians (family doctors), occasionally pediatricians, and psychiatrists. You should always keep in mind that depression in kids and adults is a very serious, but very treatable illness and should not be ignored. In general, depression in kids carries the same set of symptoms as that in younger adults. The list of symptoms include sadness, eating disturbances, insomnia, sleeping too much, outbursts, and anhedonia. The last one is important because kids can go through phases where they are sad, eat a little different or sleep more or less. Anhedonia occurs when someone stops experiencing pleasure from things that used to give them pleasure. For example, if you child used to really enjoy playing with a friend and all of a sudden has no interest any more, that can be a sign of depression in a child. Anhedonia is one of the most sensitive markers for depression. As always, it is important for you to bring up these issues with your child's physician as soon as possible so, if he is depressed, he can get the appropriate treatment.

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