How Moving Can Trigger Depression in Children

  1. Depression in children
  2. My child often seems sad. Does this mean he has depression?
  3. What are the symptoms of depression?
  4. What causes depression?
  5. How is depression treated?
  6. What about antidepressants?
  7. How do I find a good therapist?
  8. How can I help my child?
  9. Where can I learn more about children and depression?
  10. 18 Warning Signs of Childhood Depression Every Parent Should Know
  11. 18 Warning Signs of Childhood Depression
  12. Counseling for Childhood Depression
  13. Causes of Depression
  14. Proactive Steps if Your Child Shows Signs of Childhood Depression
  15. Support for You and Your Child
  16. Stephanie is a certified yoga instructor and life coach, specializing in health and mindfulness coaching, and holds a doctorate in audiology, specializing in tinnitus and is pursuing her masters in clinical counseling. She collaborates with her clients to develop an individualized plan of specific goals and provides guidance to overcome practical and emotional barriers in reaching them. Her unique background and training allows her to support her clients in ways that make positive physical, mental health and well-being change in their lives. 
  17. Childhood Depression: What Parents Need to Know
  18. What Causes Child Depression?
  19. What Is the Therapy for Child Depression?
  20. What Should I Do if I Think My Child Is Depressed?
  21. Children and young people
  22. What can affect children and young people’s mental health?
  23. Are some children and young people more ly to experience mental health problems?
  24. What mental health problems commonly occur in children?
  25. I’m a young person – what help is available?
  26. I’m worried about my child – what can I do?
  27. What treatment might young people be offered?
  28. Organisations that can help
  29. Depression
  30. What’s the difference between depression and grief?
  31. What are the risks of depression?
  32. How we care for children with depression

Depression in children

How Moving Can Trigger Depression in Children

Yes. Many adults don't realize it, but an estimated 5 percent of children and adolescents are believed to be clinically depressed. Until 1980, depression wasn't even recognized as a childhood disease, but today we know that it's a serious – and treatable – illness.

My child often seems sad. Does this mean he has depression?

Not necessarily. It's normal for everyone – including children – to feel blue or down in the dumps now and then, or be sad about a particular situation. But depression isn't the same as an episode of sadness. The condition is marked by a sense of hopelessness and a lack of energy and enthusiasm that can last for weeks, months, or (in rare cases) even years at a time.

The good news is that early detection and treatment can help your child feel himself again – and make it less ly that he'll suffer from depression in the future. The key is identifying the problem and getting help.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Depression can affect your child's behavior in many ways. Common signs of depression include:

  • Frequent sadness or tearfulness
  • Irritability or disagreeableness
  • Anger or defiance
  • Mood swings
  •  Lack of interest in things she used to enjoy
  • Trouble getting along with other children and family members
  • Social withdrawal
  • Lack of energy
  • Sleeping problems
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Low self-esteem and guilt
  • Poor performance in school
  • Sense of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Frequent complaints about headaches, stomachaches, and other physical ailments

It can be tough to tell whether your child's behavior is normal or something to worry about.

Children who are depressed also may have other difficulties at the same time: «In children, depression often goes hand in hand with other problems, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, conduct disorders, eating disorders, or substance abuse problems,» says Nadine J. Kaslow, professor and chief psychologist at Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta.

But if your child has any of the above symptoms for several weeks or more, or if her symptoms interfere with her ability to function well at home, in school, or with friends, seek help.

Talk with your child's doctor, who can help you sort out whether your child's behavior is cause for concern and, if necessary, refer you to a child psychologist, psychiatrist, or other licensed mental health professional trained to work with children.

Note: If you have any reason to fear your child might hurt herself or others, contact her doctor immediately.

What causes depression?

Depression is believed to be caused by a combination of biological and environmental factors. Many people who are depressed have a family history of depression or another mental illness.

Scientists think that depression is related to changes in brain chemistry, especially involving chemical neurotransmitters that help relay messages from one nerve cell to another. When there's a drop in certain neurotransmitters, the brain doesn't function normally, which can lead to depression and other forms of mental illness.

But depression can be rooted in other things besides genes and biology. Traumatic life events – abandonment, chronic problems in school, a difficult move, or any kind of abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional) – can trigger depression. Sometimes a loss, such as the death of a beloved pet or parents' divorce, can lead to depression.

How is depression treated?

Psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, can effectively treat depression. For mild to moderate depression, says Kaslow, therapy is often enough. For more severe cases of depression or cases that don't improve with therapy, a combination of medication and counseling is usually recommended.

Play therapy may be used with younger, less verbal children because they can express themselves more easily through play. A therapist might also recommend family therapy or parent counseling as well as treatment for any related conditions that may be discovered, such as anxiety or eating disorders.

Even after effective treatment, depression can recur. One recent study found that preschoolers diagnosed with depression were two and a half times more ly than their peers to be diagnosed with depression later during their school years.

What about antidepressants?

Antidepressants can help correct a chemical imbalance contributing to depression, but they are not an easy cure-all. Medication usually takes at least a week or two – or as long as a few months – to take effect, and finding the correct type and dose often takes time.

In most cases, your child's doctor will start by prescribing one medication, work with you to determine if it's helping, and monitor your child for side effects. Depending on your child's response, his doctor may adjust the dosage or switch to another medication.

And with children, some of the very medications intended to improve mood can have the opposite effect, leading to suicidal thinking and even suicide attempts. The U.S.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urges families to talk to their child's doctors about all possible risks and benefits associated with antidepressants and to carefully observe children taking these medicines.

To learn more, see the FDA's statement on treating childhood depression.

Experts usually recommend trying therapy first for children with mild to moderate depression and reserving antidepressants for persistent, severe depression.

Not only are side effects a concern, but using medications can actually mask the real cause of the depression and keep a child from getting effective treatment.

For example, a child who's depressed because of family discord or conflict with a teacher would be best served by improving the family dynamics or transferring to another teacher.

Any decision about using medication must be decided collaboratively by you, your child, and all his health care providers. If you have concerns about safety or side effects, be sure to explore them with your child's doctor. You also can ask about alternative treatments and options, if you prefer.

Experts stress that even when medication is appropriate, it must be combined with therapy. Medication alone won't cure the problem, and it's important that children on antidepressants be monitored closely. Also, depression can be a chronic disease, and to manage it successfully, a child will need help developing his coping skills.

How do I find a good therapist?

Talk to your child's doctor, other health providers, family members, clergy, school counselors, and friends. They may be able to refer you to someone they're familiar with and trust.

You also can get help online from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry's Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Finder or the American Psychological Association's Psychologist Locator.

Many insurance plans provide some coverage for mental or behavioral health services (including Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program), but benefits vary. Mental health services are not as ly to be covered under private insurance.

For example, 55 percent of psychiatrists don't accept insurance. Ask your insurance provider for referrals, and make sure you understand the out-of-pocket costs if you go outside your plan (or if your plan doesn't offer coverage).

Some mental health specialists offer an income-based sliding fee scale.

Once you have the names of several people, start by asking them some questions, such as these, about their background:

  • Are you a licensed psychologist/psychiatrist?
  • What degrees do you have?
  • Are you board-certified? (Ask a psychologist whether she is certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology, and ask a psychiatrist about certification by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.)
  • How long have you been practicing?
  • What's your specialty?
  • What types of treatment do you usually use?
  • How long could treatment take?
  • What are your fees? Will you accept my insurance coverage? Do you have a sliding scale fee? Can you set up a payment plan?

If your child has another mental health problem related to depression, such as attention deficit disorder or an eating disorder, look for a professional with expertise in that area, too.

Finally, it's important that you and your child have a good rapport with the therapist you choose. So it's worthwhile to spend whatever time it takes to find someone your child feels comfortable talking to.

You can ask to meet with potential therapists in person or over the phone before bringing your child to a session.

If you start with a therapist but it doesn't seem a good fit with your family, consider looking for a new therapist who will be a better match.

How can I help my child?

It's very hard for parents to see their child unhappy and suffering. Be patient and loving, and make yourself available to listen – without judging – when your child wants to talk.

Encourage her to take good care of herself physically, including eating a healthy diet, staying active, and getting good sleep at night.

You might want to scale back your child's chores or extracurricular activities to reduce stress.

Stay in close touch with your child's therapist, who can provide guidance on ways you can support your child. If your child takes medication, make sure she takes it as prescribed. Be aware of possible side effects and warning signs that your child might need urgent help.

Where can I learn more about children and depression?

For more information about depression, treatment, and support services, visit the websites of these organizations:

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

American Psychiatric Association

National Institute of Mental Health

National Alliance on Mental Illness


18 Warning Signs of Childhood Depression Every Parent Should Know

How Moving Can Trigger Depression in Children

Depression is not only an adult illness; children and adolescents can be affected by it as well.

However, much of childhood depression goes untreated because symptoms of childhood depression are different than that of adults.

Childhood depression can begin in early childhood, but because it is unrecognized, diagnosis and treatment are more common with increased age. Which is why every parent should know these warning signs of childhood depression.

18 Warning Signs of Childhood Depression

  • Irritable mood
  • Increased frequency or severity of tantrums, for younger children
  • Anger
  • Defiant attitude
  • Declining grades
  • Physical somatic complaints stomachaches or headaches
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Decreased appetite or significant weight loss
  • Lack of energy or fatigue
  • Restlessness or decreased physical movement
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or low self-esteem
  • Social isolation
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Obsessive fears or worries about death
  • Reckless behavior
  • Substance use

Yes, a lot of these symptoms are familiar during puberty; however, it may not just be a phase for your child. If your child has any combination of these symptoms that are on a consistent, daily basis, lasting for weeks to months, it may not be part of typical development. It may be a sign of depression.

To receive a diagnosis, your child must exhibit five or more symptoms for at least two weeks. If your child is showing any signs of childhood depression, it is crucial to follow-up with a pediatrician, to rule out potential health issues, and with a mental health professionals.

Counseling for Childhood Depression

A mental health professional is a valuable asset when working towards managing depressive symptoms in children. Younger children often lack the language to verbalize their moods, feelings, or experiences. Older

children may resist talking about depression because of embarrassment or fear of being different.

A child therapist is trained to work with your child to address thought processes or actions that may be contributing to their depression. A counselor can help your child identify and replace negative thoughts, help overcome fears, and address problematic behaviors.

Child psychologists and counselors can also help foster lifestyle changes that effectively help manage feelings of depression. This may include stress management techniques, regular physical exercise, relaxation techniques, and building a stronger social support system.

A counselor is in a unique position when compared to parents because they are a neutral person for the child. Talking, sharing, and being vulnerable with a counselor is easier to do than with a related superior, a parent.

Causes of Depression

Even though your child may not have to worry about “adult” issues, bills or work, it doesn’t mean they don’t experience stress. Anyone can develop depression. If your child is showing signs of depression, it isn’t a weakness in your child, and it isn’t necessarily your fault as a parent or caregiver.

Stressful life events contribute to depression; however, they may be a small piece of the overall puzzle of causes. Here are some risk factors that contribute to childhood depression:

  • Brain chemistry: imbalances in particular neurotransmitters and hormones can change how the brain works, affecting moods and emotions that increase the risk of depression. This can be especially true as your child comes into puberty.
  • Family history: those with a family history of depression have an increased risk than those who do not.
  • Stress or trauma: sudden changes, divorce or moving, can cause significant stress for children, which in turn contributes to depressive symptoms. Additionally, childhood trauma, such as abuse, assault, or neglect, can trigger depression.
  • Environmental factors: similarly to the reasons above, stressful, chaotic, or unstable homes create a stressful environment for children, making them more ly to experience depression. However, it isn’t just the home environment that needs to be considered. Rejection and bullying at school can also be a contributing factor. According to Alice Ann Holland, researcher and pediatric neuropsychologist, chronic anxiety is one of the most common risk factors for depression.

Proactive Steps if Your Child Shows Signs of Childhood Depression

Learning about childhood depression, recognizing the signs, and understanding why children develop depression is crucial for parents, teachers, and caregivers. When recognized, you can intervene sooner. Here are some proactive steps you can start now with your child:

  • Discuss the importance of taking care of his or her body and how doing so helps support their minds. Eating nutritious foods, getting plenty of exercises, and getting full nights of sleep are all beneficial for mental health
  • Predictable and consistent schedules can help your child better manage stress. Part of this is ensuring your child has a regular sleep schedule. Make sure they go to sleep and wake up about the same time each day.
  • Help your child develop a social support system by encouraging them to participate in sports, clubs, or activities. It’s important, however, to ensure you aren’t over-scheduling your child’s day, as over-scheduling contributes to the overall stress and worsens depressive symptoms.
  • Teach your child self-regulation skills. This includes skills for managing their emotions, for solving problems, and for coping with failure and setbacks. If you aren’t sure how to do this, consult with a mental health counselor.
  • Don’t make discussing mental health or depression taboo in your house. It is crucial to develop an environment where staying healthy is a family priority, and where communication lines are open to problem solve and strategize on how to maintain health. Talk to your child in a non-judgmental way about what they are feeling and experiencing.

Support for You and Your Child

If your child is showing signs of childhood depression, support is available. Your child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. And you will most ly need to take the first steps to help them through.

Providing a supportive home and environment is a great first step – but not the only step. If you’re in the Chicagoland area, considering reaching out to one of our counselors at Life Care Wellness at (630) 423-5935.

We have offices in Glen Ellyn, Chicago (Jefferson Park), and Sycamore, Illinois.

Stephanie is a certified yoga instructor and life coach, specializing in health and mindfulness coaching, and holds a doctorate in audiology, specializing in tinnitus and is pursuing her masters in clinical counseling. She collaborates with her clients to develop an individualized plan of specific goals and provides guidance to overcome practical and emotional barriers in reaching them. Her unique background and training allows her to support her clients in ways that make positive physical, mental health and well-being change in their lives. 

Call (630) 423-5935 for more information or to set up an appointment.

Life Care Wellness | 800 Roosevelt Rd, Building C, Suite 206, Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Serving West Chicagoland including Winfield, Wheaton, Lisle, Glen Ellyn, Lombard, Downers Grove and Elmhurst.

Life Care Wellness | 5408 N. Long Avenue, Chicago, Illinios
Serving Jefferson Park, Lincolnwood, Edgebrook, North Park, Albany Park, Harwood Heights, Norwood Park and the near North suburbs including Park Ridge, Niles, Skokie and Evanston.

Life Care Wellness | 1958 Aberdeen Ct, Sycamore, Illinois
Serving DeKalb and Northern Illinois University area along with Cortland, Genoa, Maple Park, Kingston, Burlington, Hampshire, Malta, Kirkland, and Elburn.


Childhood Depression: What Parents Need to Know

How Moving Can Trigger Depression in Children

It's normal for kids to feel sad, act grouchy, or be in a bad mood at times. But when a sad or bad mood lasts for weeks or longer, and when there are other changes in a child's behavior, it might be depression.

Therapy can help children who are going through sadness or depression. And there are things parents can do, too. Getting the right care can prevent things from getting worse and help a child feel better.

If sadness has lasted for weeks or longer, talk about it with your child's doctor.

If a child is depressed, parents may notice some of these signs:

  • Sad or bad mood. A child may seem sad, lonely, unhappy, or grouchy. It can last weeks or months. A child may cry more easily. They may have more tantrums than before.
  • Being self-critical. Kids going through depression may complain a lot. They may say self-critical things , «I can't do anything right.» «I don't have any friends.» «I can't do this.» «It's too hard for me.»
  • Lack of energy and effort. Depression can drain a child's energy. They might put less effort into school than before. Even doing little tasks can feel too much effort. Kids may seem tired, give up easily, or not try.
  • Not enjoying things. Kids don't have as much fun with friends or enjoy playing before. They may not feel doing things they used to enjoy.
  • Sleep and eating changes. Kids may not sleep well or seem tired even if they get enough sleep. Some may not feel eating. Others may overeat.
  • Aches and pains. Some children may have stomach aches or other pains. Some miss school days because of not feeling well, even though they aren't sick.

What Causes Child Depression?

Different things can lead to depression. There is no single cause. Some children have genes that make them more sensitive to depression. They may have other family members who have been depressed.

Some children go through stressful things. Some have faced loss, trauma, or hardships. Some go through serious health conditions. These things can lead to sadness or grief — and sometimes to depression.

Having extra support during and after hard times helps protect children from depression or lessen the effects. But even when they have good support, some children get depressed. Therapy can help them heal, feel better, and get back to enjoying things.

What Is the Therapy for Child Depression?

The therapy for child depression is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Therapists help kids feel welcome and supported. They have kids talk about what they think and feel. They may use stories, play, lessons, or workbooks. These tools can help children feel at ease and get the most from CBT. When possible, a child's therapy includes their parent.

If a child has gone through a loss, trauma, or other difficult events, the therapy will include things that help a child heal from that, too. And if a parent is dealing with their own loss or depression, the child's therapist can help them get the care and support they need.

What Should I Do if I Think My Child Is Depressed?

If you think your child is depressed:

Talk with your child about sadness and depression. Kids might not know why they are so sad and why things seem so hard. Let them know you see that they're going through a hard time and that you're there to help. Listen, comfort, offer your support, and show love.

Set up a visit with your child's doctor. Let your child's doctor know if sad or bad moods seem to go on for a few weeks.

By itself, this doesn't always mean a child is depressed. Tell your child's doctor if you have also noticed changes in your child's sleep, eating, energy, or effort.

Tell them if your child is dealing with a loss, a big stress, or hardship.

The doctor will do a physical exam. A full exam lets the doctor check for health issues that could cause your child's symptoms. They can also check for depression. Your child's doctor may refer you to a child therapist. The doctor's office might have a child therapist on staff.

Set up a visit with a child therapist. A child therapist (mental health doctor) will spend time talking with you and your child. They will do an in-depth check for depression by asking questions and listening. The therapist can explain how therapy can help your child.

Take your child to therapy visits. The therapist may suggest a few visits, or more. Therapy can take time, but you will see progress along the way.

Be patient and kind. When your child acts moody or difficult, try to stay patient. Talk with your child's therapist about the best ways to respond when your child acts this way.

Often, it helps to connect with your child in a calm way, then guide them to better behavior. Instead of feeling bad, this lets kids feel proud of doing better.

It lets them see that you're proud of them, too.

Enjoy time together. Spend time with your child doing things you both can enjoy. Go for a walk, play a game, cook, read stories, make a craft, watch a funny movie. Spend time outdoors if you can. These things gently encourage positive moods. They help you and your child feel close.


Children and young people

How Moving Can Trigger Depression in Children

Mental health problems affect around one in six children. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder (a type of behavioural problem), and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.

*Last updated: 12 August 2021

Alarmingly, however, 75% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem aren’t getting the help they need.

Children’s emotional wellbeing is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health helps them develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.

Things that can help keep children and young people mentally well include:

  • being in good physical health, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise
  • having time and freedom to play, indoors and outdoors
  • being part of a family that gets along well most of the time
  • going to a school that looks after the wellbeing of all its pupils
  • taking part in local activities.

Other factors are also important, including feeling loved, trusted, understood and safe. Children who are optimistic, resilient, have some control over their lives and feel they belong are more ly to have good mental wellbeing.

Most children grow up mentally healthy, but surveys suggest that more children and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago.

What can affect children and young people’s mental health?

Traumatic events can trigger mental health problems for children and young people who are already vulnerable.

Changes often act as triggers: moving home, changing school or the birth of a new sibling, for example. Some children who start school feel excited about making new friends and doing new activities, but there may also be some who feel anxious.

Teenagers often experience emotional turmoil as their minds and bodies develop. An important part of growing up is working out and accepting who you are. Some young people find it hard to make this transition to adulthood and may experiment with alcohol, drugs or other substances that can affect mental health.

Are some children and young people more ly to experience mental health problems?

Certain risk factors can make some children and young people more ly to experience mental health problems than others. However, experiencing them doesn’t mean a child will definitely – or even probably – go on to have mental health problems.

These factors include:

  • having a long-term physical illness
  • a parent who has had mental health problems, problems with alcohol or has been in trouble with the law
  • the death of someone close to them
  • parents who separate or divorce
  • experiencing severe bullying or physical or sexual abuse
  • poverty or homelessness
  • experiencing discrimination
  • caring for a relative, taking on adult responsibilities
  • having long-lasting difficulties at school.

What mental health problems commonly occur in children?

  • Depression affects more children and young people today than in the last few decades. Teenagers are more ly to experience depression than young children.
  • Self-harm is a very common problem among young people. Some people who experience intense emotional pain may try to deal with it by hurting themselves.
  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) can cause young people to become extremely worried. Very young children or children starting or moving school may have separation anxiety.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can follow physical or sexual abuse, witnessing something extremely frightening or traumatising, being the victim of violence or severe bullying or surviving a disaster.
  • Children who are consistently overactive, impulsive and have difficulty paying attention may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Eating disorders usually start in the teenage years and are more common in girls than boys. The number of young people who develop an eating disorder is small, but eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can have serious consequences for their physical health and development.

I’m a young person – what help is available?

If you’re a young person and you’re worried about your mental health, there is help available. You may want to try the following things.

  • Talk to someone about how you feel, such as a parent, friend or adult you trust. Our page on friendship has ideas on opening up to a friend.
  • Visit your GP. They can answer any questions you have about how you’re feeling, talk you through different support options, and refer you to other services who could give you more help.
  • Get in touch with services and organisations that help people with mental health problems. Visit our getting help page, or look at ‘organisations that can help’ below for support that is specifically for young people.

You could text the Young Minds Crisis Messenger if you need support. A trained volunteer will text with you to help you think through your feelings and signpost you to other support.

Mind has lots of information for young people about understanding your feelings, how to get help and support, what happens when you visit your GP, looking after yourself and more.

I’m worried about my child – what can I do?

One of the most important ways parents or guardians can help is by listening to their children and taking their feelings seriously. They may want a hug, they may want you to help them change something or they may want practical help.

Children and young people’s negative feelings usually pass. However, it’s a good idea to get help if your child is distressed for a long time, if their feelings are stopping them from getting on with their lives, if their distress is disrupting family life or if they are repeatedly behaving in ways you wouldn’t expect at their age.

If your child is having problems at school, a teacher, school nurse, school counsellor or educational psychologist may be able to help. Otherwise, go to your GP or speak to a health visitor. They can refer a child to further help if necessary. Different professionals often work together in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Most mental health support for children and young people is provided free by the NHS, your child’s school or your local council’s social services department.

Young Minds has a parents’ helpline you can call if you’re worried about a child up to the age of 25. They provide advice, emotional support and signposting to other services.

What treatment might young people be offered?

Treatment for children and young people often involves talking through the problem in order to work out the best way to tackle it. For young children, this may be done through play. They may be referred to a specialist such as a counsellor who is trained to help them explore their feelings and behaviour.

There is a lot of evidence that talking therapies can be effective for children and young people, but medication may also help in some cases. Children need to be assessed by a specialist before they are prescribed any medication.

The professionals supporting a child will keep information about them and their family confidential. Young people can seek help on their own, either by ringing a helpline or by approaching a professional directly, but will usually need a parent’s consent for medical care if they’re under 16.

Young people have a right to privacy if they don’t want to talk to their family about their conversations with professionals.

Organisations that can help

Barnardo's protects and supports the UK’s most vulnerable children. They provide a range of services to help and support children, young people, parents and carers.

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) runs a free, confidential helpline and webchat service offering help and advice to anyone feeling down or in need of support.

ChildLine is a free, confidential service where children can talk about any issue they’re going through. You can call their helpline or use their webchat to speak to a trained counsellor.

The Children’s Society supports children going through serious life challenges. They run services and campaigns to make children’s lives better.

Contact offer advice and support to families with disabled children. If you’re a parent caring for a disabled child, you can arrange to speak to an adviser for practical and emotional support.

Family Lives offers information and support on all aspects of family life, including the stages of child development, issues with schools, parenting support, bullying and mental health concerns.

Papyrus supports people under 35 who have thoughts of suicide and others who are concerned about them. You can contact them by phone, text or email.

Penumbra supports adults and young people in Scotland with mental health problems. They offer services that provide practical and emotional support.

You can text Shout on 85258 for confidential support by text.

The Mix offers free emotional support to people under 25 by phone, webchat or email. They also offer a short-term counselling service.

YoungMinds offers information and support to young people about their mental health, and helps adults to support the young people in their lives. If you’re a parent worried about a child’s mental health, you can call their helpline.



How Moving Can Trigger Depression in Children

Everyone goes through periods of feeling unhappy or listless, even children. But if the feelings are very strong or persist for a long time, they might be caused by a medical problem.

Major depression, or simply “depression,” is a serious condition that can take over your child’s mood and thoughts.

The good news is that awareness and intervention from parents or other adults can help children with depression live normal and happy lives.

Childhood depression is a mental health disorder characterized by a sad mood that is both prolonged and severe. Typically, children with depression are:

  • in a depressed or irritable mood for most of the day, nearly every day
  • show a noticeable decrease in interest or pleasure in nearly all activities
  • may have severe problems with eating, sleeping, energy, and concentration, feelings of worthlessness or extreme guilt, and even little desire to live

It’s important to understand that your child, or anyone with depression, cannot just «snap it.» Without treatment, symptoms can last for months or even years.

Depression in children has dramatically increased in recent years. Between 7 and 14 percent of children will experience an episode of major depression before they turn 15.

Before puberty, boys and girls are equally at risk for depression. By age 15, girls are twice as ly as boys to have experienced a major depressive episode.

Around 80 percent of people with major depression who seek treatment improve, usually within weeks.

What’s the difference between depression and grief?

Grief is a normal and natural response to loss. While grief and depression share certain symptoms (e.g. sadness, too much or too little sleep, changes in eating patterns), grief is not as constant.

In other words, a person who is grieving may feel very sad when thinking about or remembering the loss, but feel somewhat better around friends and family.

But someone with depression rarely finds relief from sadness.

What are the risks of depression?

If you think your child might be depressed, have an evaluation sooner rather than later. If left untreated, depression could lead to:

  • failure in school
  • involvement in risky behaviors
  • difficulties with jobs and relationships in adulthood
  • attempted or successful suicide

How we care for children with depression

The Boston Children’s Hospital Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences has long been at the forefront of providing expert, compassionate care to children and adolescents with mental health issues.

Our approach to mental health care is evidence-based — which means our treatments have been tested and proven effective through scientific studies, both here at our hospital and by other leading institutions worldwide.

Boston Children’s has a dedicated Psychopharmacology Clinicto help determine whether medication might be a helpful addition to the treatment plan.

For children's that need hospitalization, Boston Children's Inpatient Psychiatry Service provides family oriented psychiatric assessment and treatment with the goal of returning your child to a more comfortable environment for ongoing care.


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