A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Depression

Growing up can be a very challenging process, as the body goes through many physical and chemical changes. Throughout this process, your child is likely to display changes in behavior from time-to-time. Mood swings and temper tantrums are regular parts of growing up, and even though they are not fun, they usually pass.

A behavioral change isn’t always a cause for concern, but if a change impacts a child’s social and educational development, then it would be worth talking to your doctor. Some issues can be caused by ear and eye problems, but when the child seems to have the blues or starts avoiding situations, it could be a sign of childhood depression.

A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Depression

What is Childhood Depression?

Over the last decade, the cases of mental health disorders in children have been steadily increasing. Cases of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are becoming increasingly more common. Likewise, the CDC has reported an increase in the cases of childhood depression and anxiety.

Around 1 in 4 kids in the USA may suffer from depression at some stage in their lives. It can come in waves as a result of particular triggers, while in other cases, it can become chronic. In all situations, prompt treatment and support can help the child learn to manage the symptoms and live a full and active life.

What Causes Childhood Depression?

Many different factors can lead to a child feeling depressed or anxious. If there is a family history of mental health issues, then the child may be more at risk; however, this will usually happen in association with other issues. Common causes of childhood depression include:

  • Chronic health conditions
  • Problems at home
  • Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse
  • Stressful life events, such as a divorce or family bereavement
  • Bullying
  • Biochemical imbalances
  • Poor sleep

In many cases, a combination of different things can trigger depression or anxiety in kids.

Symptoms of Childhood Depression

Every kid will get the blues or have some mood swings as they go through childhood. However, these tantrums or spells usually come and go very quickly.

When kids have prolonged spells of sadness or changes in behavior, then it is worth seeking advice. Things to look out for include:

  • Irritability and angry outbursts
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Appetite changes
  • Problems with concentration
  • Loss of confidence
  • Emotional issues, such as feeling empty, numb, or worthless

There may be physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and muscle pains.

In more severe cases, the child may have thoughts of hurting themselves and may even self-harm.


Luckily, there has been an increased awareness of mental health issues throughout the USA. These days, people are more likely to talk about depression and ask for help than they were in the past. Therefore, it is vitally important that you speak to your child if you think they are depressed.

They may not want to or know how to, so don’t pressure them. Being as supportive as possible and offering them the opportunity to speak to someone in the family will provide reassurance.

If you are worried about your child’s behavior, or if they tell you they are feeling low, then book an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.

They will be able to test for any physical triggers and also advise you on the best course of action. Therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) allow kids to understand their feelings and learn strategies to cope with them. Some kids may be offered medicine to manage their symptoms and level out any chemical imbalances.