Childhood depression is a growing concern in our country. Recognizing symptoms in children at different ages can help parents find early, effective treatment.

Childhood depression is a real and growing concern in modern culture. As parents, we sometimes ignore signs of depression in our kids because we don’t want to believe mental illness can affect them. But rates of childhood depression in our country are growing, and we must not ignore the trend.

Childhood Depression Hits Younger

Not only are more children being diagnosed with depression, they are being diagnosed at younger ages than ever before. In a blog post at her website, Dr. Michele Borba, author and educational psychologist, cited an article in the Journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Current Directions in Psychological Science . In the article, child psychiatrist and researcher, Joan Luby from Washington University in St. Louis reports recent findings about depression in young children. Luby said that “depression in children as young as three years of age is real and not just a passing grumpy mood.”

How to Recognize Childhood Depression

The remainder of Dr. Borba’s blog post describes symptoms of depression at different stages of childhood. Here are some highlights.

Depression in a Preschooler

  • Loss of pleasure in play
  • Frequent stomachaches, headaches, and fatigue
  • Excessive restlessness
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • Frequent sadness


Depression in a School Age Child

  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Excessive weight loss or gain
  • Excessive worrying
  • Unprovoked hostility or aggression
  • Refusal or reluctance to attend school
  • Loss of interest in playing with peers


Depression in Adolescents

  • Sleeping longer
  • Abusing drugs, alcohol or smoking
  • Conduct problems in school
  • Loss of enjoyment of previously enjoyable activities
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Doesn’t attend to appearance
  • Morbid or suicidal thoughts


Borba advises using the “too index” to decide when parents should seek professional help. That index and other signs of depression in kids can be found in Borba’s blog post, Childhood Depression: Signs in Preschoolers, Kids & Teens.

Childhood Depression and You?

Has a child at your house been diagnosed with depression? What symptoms did you see? When did you decide to get help? Leave a comment to raise awareness so children can receive early and effective treatment for this illness.

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