Depression in Children: Signs & Symptoms

Understanding Depression in Children

Though uncommon and affecting only about 2% of kids, depression in children does occur and should not be overlooked.

Childhood depression is not just occasional sadness, but is a real disorder characterized by symptoms that last for weeks, months, or even years. At the practice of Raul J. Rodriguez, MD we typically see depression manifest itself during adolescence. The hormonal upheaval and painful self-awareness that comes with being a teenager causes some children to develop clinical depression. Most mood disorders have a genetic component, and these disorders typically emerge in either late childhood or early disorder. It is important to distinguish pediatric or adolescent depression from the normal mood swings of a teenager, so that they are not prescribed medication that can make things worse.

For younger children, depressive symptoms can be an indicator of childhood trauma, or an early invalidating experience. This can come from divorce, abuse, neglect, or bullying at school. Children sometimes manifest depression after a traumatic experience. Left untreated, trauma can evolve into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or borderline personality disorder (BPD) when the child becomes an adult. At any age, it is important to address uncharacteristic behavior early; the longer it takes, the harder it becomes to resolve trauma.

Symptoms of childhood depression include:

  • Irritability or anger.
  • Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection.
  • Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased.
  • Changes in sleep — sleeplessness or excessive sleep.
  • Vocal outbursts or crying.

If you think your child is struggling with depression, the office of Raul J. Rodriguez, MD may be able to help. Dr. Rodriguez works with adolescents age 14 & up, providing both psychiatry and psychotherapy. If your child is younger, we can also refer you to an appropriate mental health professional. Keep in mind that treating depression in children and teenagers is very different than treating it in adults. Because minors are still growing, and their brains are still forming, many medications and therapies conventionally used for adults are not recommended.

Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez

Dr. Raul Rodriguez

DABPN, DABAM, MRO

For appointment requests please text 561-287-5042 or if you have medication concerns please text 561-409-7296.

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