Depression in Children and Teens

Children and Teens who are depressed may have the same symptoms as adults. However, these symptoms are often overlooked because adults may mistakenly believe that the symptoms are expected behaviors.

Symptoms of depression to look for in children include:

  • Being irritable and crying for no apparent reason.
  • Avoiding friends and social activities. Their classmates in school often shun depressed children.
  • Doing poorly in school or refusing to go to school.
  • Paying little attention to their personal appearance.
  • Having behavior problems such as having temper tantrums, becoming sexually active, or using alcohol and illegal drugs.
  • Not getting along well with parents.
  • Children who are depressed may avoid hugs and other signs of affection from their parents.

Symptoms of depression to look for in teens include:

  • Teens may show sadness by wearing black clothes and writing poetry or listening to music with themes of death and destruction.
  • Sleep problems may be disguised by watching TV all night.
  • Low energy may result in having a lack of motivation, missing classes, or quitting a sports team.
  • Problems concentrating and slowed thinking may result in lower grades in school.
  • Changes in eating habits may result in severe eating problems such as anorexia or bulimia.
  • The onset of behavioral problems, like drinking alcohol, using illegal drugs, or having unprotected sex.