What is Childhood Depression?

All children can experience sadness or moodiness from time to time, but if symptomsChildhood Depression persist or worsen and interfere with school, family relationships, play, and daily life activities, these may be signs of childhood depression.

What are some symptoms of childhood depression?

Symptoms of childhood depression may include:

  • Sadness
  • Irritability or anger
  • Fatigue or low energy level
  • Problems with eating (either loss of appetite or overeating)
  • Problems with sleep
  • Poor self-esteem/loss of confidence
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Poor concentration/loss of focusDownload our Childhood Depression Check-List
  • Thoughts of self-harm/death

Does childhood depression represent itself in multiple ways?

There are many variations of childhood depression that include:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Dysthymia
  • Depressive, anxiety, and mood disorder not otherwise specified
  • Adjustment disorders
  • Bipolar disorder

(Untreated, chronic anxiety disorders can lead to depression, as well).

How can I treat my child’s depression?

Good treatment always starts with solid differential diagnosis. Behaviors and other conditions can sometimes mask, or exist concurrently with, depression. It is critical to pinpoint which condition(s) are observed and which is driving a child’s behavior.

According to research studies, a “best practice” treatment for childhood depression is cognitive behavior therapy, which teaches children to adjust their thinking patterns in order to improve their moods. Skills taught include: thought blocking, reducing thinking errors, positive self-talk, relaxation, and positive visualization methods. If therapy alone is insufficient in improving a child’s mood and functioning, it is important to consult with a psychiatrist for medication management.

Our approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy

We focus on a cognitive behavior approach. We can supplement this approach, depending on the age, personality, and needs of a child, with play therapy, anger management techniques, social skills training, therapeutic games, and books. Parents are our partners, so we value and encourage communication and family involvement at every stage of the treatment process. We work closely with pediatricians and psychiatrists in order to monitor the efficacy and side effects of medication. We consult and collaborate with schools and other agencies, as appropriate, in order to enhance our clients’ functioning in all areas.

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