Depression in Children and Teens

Everyone feels sad or blue from time to time, both children and adults. When sad feelings significantly impair or affect a child's functioning and persist for more than two weeks, a diagnosis of depression may be appropriate. In addition to the distress it causes to a child, depression can have a dramatic effect on all parts of his or her life, inhibiting social, emotional and educational development. A child with undetected or untreated depression is at risk for:

  • Poor school attendance and academic performance
  • Problems such as anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Depression in adulthood
  • Suicide

Fortunately, depression is one of the most easily and successfully treated mental illnesses. Treatment can include medication and psychotherapy, which can be equally effective; one or both can be chosen as treatment options.

When to Seek Professional Help

When should parents seek professional help and guidance for their child's depression? Here are a few tools to help answer that question:

The Child Study Center's Depression Screening Survey
In a few minutes, we can help you decide if seeking professional help is advisable.

When and How Depression is Treated
This article provides some useful guidelines about signs and symptoms, when to seek help, and treatment options.

Depression on AboutOurKids.org
This section of our A-Z Disorder Guide provides in-depth information, related articles and resources.