Is it possible for a child to be depressed?

Children, like adults, can experience depression. Sometimes, seemingly typical youngsters with no major life concerns might develop depression. Clinical depression develops as a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. If your kid is sad, you should be aware of certain symptoms. Getting them support and therapy is critical to their mental health.

In this post, we will look at the indicators of depression in children and how parents may help them overcome it.

Depression symptoms in children:

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Diseases) is really the widely used guidebook used by clinicians to diagnose mental disorders. A major depressive episode is defined by the DSM as depressed symptoms that continue for two weeks or more. If your child has been “down in the dumps,” feeling hopeless, or melancholy for more than two weeks, it is reason for worry and should be explored.

According to the DSM handbook, the following are indicators of depression. For an individual to be officially diagnosed with MDD, at least five of these behaviours must be present for at least two weeks (Major Depressive Disorder). A summary/generalization from the DSM handbook is provided below:

  • Deep sorrow or unhappiness that lasted at least for the most of the workday (for two weeks or more). They may appear irritated rather than sorrowful in children.
  • Reduced participation in activities (again, the majority of the day or all the time).
  • considerable weight loss (not through nutrition) or appetite suppression Children do not gain the weight that is expected of them as they mature.
  • Having trouble sleeping (insomnia).
  • whether its a decelerating or a visible disturbance of key psychomotor talents This indicates that either they have unfocused periods that appear to be the result of anxiety and stress, or their speech and bodily movements are significantly sluggish or delayed.
  • lack of energy and weariness.
  • daily thoughts of being unworthy or feeling overwhelming guilt.
  • day after day having trouble concentrating, thinking, or making judgments. Their academic performance could reflect this.
  • Having suicidal thoughts or being fascinated about death.

Please be aware that it is typical for your child to exhibit certain symptoms of sadness if they are grieving the loss of a loved one and going through the stages of mourning. Grief counselling should be sought out if they appear to be trapped in the depressive stage and need assistance moving through it.

However, they should be sent to a professional for a potential MDD diagnosis and therapy if they are not experiencing grief or a medical condition that would produce the aforementioned characteristics (Major Depressive Disorder).

How to assist your child in getting over a depression:

Depression should not be dismissed. in particular when depressive ideas are prevalent. Real and serious consideration must be given to the child’s thoughts and feelings. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 34. [1]

If you think your kid meets the MDD criteria, seeking professional treatment is advised (Major Depressive Disorder). Your kid’s paediatrician can evaluate and recommend your child for treatment. They may benefit from medication, such as anti-depressants, depending on how severe the symptoms are.

As a first line of treatment for depression, most physicians seldom administer antibiotics. Instead, therapy is the primary line of defence against depression, with medication added if necessary or if the symptoms are too severe to be treated without treatment alone.

Planning a test:

To accurately evaluate whether your kid is depressed, specialists can use evaluation methods. The three instruments used to evaluate depression in children are:

  • The Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS)
  • Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI)
  • Clinical Global Impression (CGI)

You may assist guarantee that the right tests and evaluation take place by bringing your kid to a qualified mental health counsellor, psychologist, or psychiatrist.

A Therapy Visit:

Numerous therapeutic modalities are accessible nowadays. Finding a specialist who specialises in treating severe depression in children is crucial.

One of the most popular therapeutic techniques for treating childhood sadness is cognitive behavioural therapy. Due to the fact that play is a more effective form of communication for young children than talking alone, play therapy is helpful in treating childhood depression in these kids.

The things parents may do at home to assist their depressed kids:

Parents may assist their depressed child at home in addition to obtaining professional guidance by doing the following:

1. Engage in a sympathetic and empathic discussion regarding your child’s emotions:

Sitting down with your child and asking them about their feelings might seem like a lot of pressure. To help your child unwind and talk more openly about their emotions, take them for a walk, play a game of board or card games with them, or simply play with them.

To engage in more interactive communication with your child, provide open-ended questions that demand more than a simple yes or no. Never pass judgement on someone who is being candid and upfront with you since doing so will surely make them stop talking to you or stop being honest with you altogether.

Because the youngster may occasionally be processing their thoughts and feelings throughout your time together, it is OK to permit pauses in the dialogue. Silence may be useful at times, so you don’t have to talk for the full time and space.

2. Give them leisure and stress-relieving activities to engage in:

There are easy techniques to aid younger children with unwinding.

Give them the chance to participate in activities that they find calming, such colouring, drawing, using Play-do or clay, or playing in the sand with sand toys. Once more, finding your child age-appropriate and interesting hobbies will help them unwind.

3. Reduce screen time:

Your child won’t become less depressed using technology. They may be avoiding talking more about their feelings and emotions by using it as a kind of escape.

Limit the amount of time you spend using your tablet, laptop, phone, and other devices to watch TV. You should restrict your child’s use of any technologies that appear to keep them from talking to one other. Children who spend more time watching screens have been proven to be more susceptible to anxiety and despair. [2]

Give your children alternatives to screen time, such as outdoor activities like bicycling, hiking, creating, painting, and playing. Some youngsters could be so reliant on screen time as their source of enjoyment that they might require your participation in alternative activities alongside them in order to get interested in the activities.

If your child is lonely, depressed, and used to staying inside to play computer games every day after school, you can’t just urge them to go outside and play. To get your kid interested in these alternative activities, go on a nature trek with them outdoors or take them to a playgrounds and have fun alongside.

4. Encourage physical activity and outdoor time:

Encouraging your kids to participate in outdoor activities, such as hikes in the park. To encourage kids to participate in the activities, perform these actions with them. Once more, this is a chance for honest exchanges of views and time spent with loved ones.

5. Assist your child in overcoming obstacles or completing difficult tasks:

Helping them out by assisting them in dividing the work into more manageable, smaller pieces. Large challenges and chores can be daunting for kids with depression, who frequently have trouble taking them on. When the smaller, more achievable chores are completed, aiding them by splitting the larger work into smaller, more manageable activities will help them gain confidence.

Over time, completing small tasks leads to the completion of bigger ones. It is a process that demands time, consideration, and a readiness to assist your child. This does not imply that you must complete the work or deal with the issue alone.

A lot of times, all your child needs is for you to divide the bigger activity into smaller, more manageable chores and then patiently walk them through doing these little tasks.

6. Assist your child in reducing life stress:

Children who are depressed typically struggle more to manage the demands of daily living. Reduce the amount of time you spend doing things that make your child’s stress level rise and seek for methods to make your child’s life less stressful.

7. Create a welcoming environment at home:

Decrease or end negative attitudes, words, and discussions. Furthermore, refrain from using foul language, acting passive-aggressively, and using any kind of physical force within the house.

Rather than creating a turbulent environment, turn your house into a safe sanctuary for your child (in words, emotions, or physically). Create a peaceful atmosphere where your child may feel secure—mentally, emotionally, and physically.

8. Assist your youngster in finding the bright side of problems in life:

Instead than highlighting the drawbacks of a circumstance, emphasise the advantages. Encourage them to see the positive side of every circumstance.

Speak words that are energising, motivating, and positive to set an example for others to follow. Given that your child may pick up on your feelings and words, resist the need to speak any unpleasant things that may come to mind.

9. Trust your child when they express their emotions:

Be patient with them and consider what they have to say. Keep in mind that they are feeling things. When people discuss their feelings openly, they do it with understanding and compassion. Encourage children to communicate their feelings by using “I feel” phrases.

10. Keep an eye out for suicidal tendencies:

These habits include giving away their stuff, obsessing over mortality, and having your youngster or adolescent conduct internet study on this subject.

When suicide thoughts or behaviours are displayed, get professional assistance right once. In case of uncertainty, have this number handy: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s toll-free number is 1-800-273-8255.

11. Keep all medications, alcohol, narcotics, and firearms locked up and out of the reach of kids and teenagers:

This must be given to all children, but it is especially crucial for depressed kids since they are more likely to abuse alcohol and other substances. The probability of them trying to kill themselves is also higher. Thus, keep suicide-related items and weapons out of the child’s reach, such as ropes and knives.

12. Invest time with your youngster in one-on-one conversations:

Spend time with your child in a meaningful way throughout the day, every day. At least 20 minutes per day should be set aside for your child and you to spend meaningful one-on-one time together, even if you are pressed for time and cannot devote an hour or more to that purpose each day. Try out the ideas from point 3 for activities.

13. Be your child’s encourager and supporter:

Due to the circumstances and your child’s state, be kind rather than irritated or angry. Maintaining a positive outlook can help your youngster to do the same.

Daily praise for their efforts should be given rather than words that are centred on outcomes (like a grade or a victory). When their efforts are unsuccessful if you applaud the result, they will be dissatisfied. Their self-confidence is bolstered if they receive appreciation for their efforts regardless of the outcome (the effort they put into things).

14. Support your kid in living a healthy lifestyle:

Your child’s mood greatly depends on how well they sleep. A day can be ruined by obtaining insufficient sleep. Children between the ages of three and eighteen require between eight and twelve hours of sleep every night, according to Sleep Aid Resource. [3]


Make sure your kid has a nutritious, well-balanced diet, obtains adequate sleep, and exercises or participates in regular physical activity.

15. Aid your kid in encouraging good ties and friendships among their classmates:

Your smaller children should have play dates, and you should encourage your older children to host friends at your house.

16. Discuss bullying:

Talk to your child about their social contacts with their friends and life outside of the house because it may be one of the factors contributing to their sadness. Help children identify bullying and talk about appropriate responses to harassment.

17. Encourage your kid to commit to the treatment programme recommended by their physician, counsellor, psychologist, or psychiatrist:

Ascertain that you are familiar with the recommended course of therapy for your child from his doctor. Medication prescriptions, counselling session suggestions, and home-based advice are a few examples of this. Long-term, best outcomes for your child will be achieved if the plan is carried out. Without being followed, a plan cannot succeed.

18. Understand that receiving expert therapy might take time to produce results:

Results won’t be seen for a few weeks. Be sympathetic and patient with your youngster since it can take a month or longer.

It is possible to treat a child’s depression:

Numerous factors may contribute to a child’s depression. It can easily be treated.

If you think your child could be experiencing a depressed episode, you should get them professional care. In a professional context, at home, and at school, treatments can be put into place. A strategy for helping your child is essential.

It is not a good idea to ignore the issue or to wish for the depression to magically go. To treat childhood depression, treatment is essential.

Contacting your child’s paediatrician is the initial step to getting things started. Your child’s depression may be fought and conquered by local professionals who will be able to assist your youngster day by day. Every step of the way, they will have you by their side to help them get through it. It’s likely that doing so will also help your kid and you grow closer as a result of the experience. Having a positive attitude on the current circumstance or finding a silver lining can help.


[1] National Institute of Mental Health: Suicide
[2] Ask Dr. Sears: It’s a Virtual World: Setting Practical Screen Time Limits
[3] Sleep Aid Resource: Sleep Chart