Depression

According to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), depression is a serious disorder that can cause significant problems in mood, thinking, and behavior at home, in school, and with peers. It is estimated that major depressive disorder (MDD) affects about 5% of adolescents.

A depressed child may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that the parent may die. Older children may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative, grouchy, and feel misunderstood.

Because normal behaviors vary from one childhood stage to another, it can be difficult to tell whether a child is just going through a temporary “phase” or suffering from depression. Sometimes parents become worried about how the child’s behavior has changed or a teacher mentions that “your child doesn’t seem to be himself”. In such a case, if a visit to the child’s pediatrician rules out physical symptoms, the doctor will probably suggest that the child be evaluated, preferably by a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of children.

Signs & Sypmtoms

If one or more of these signs and symptoms persist, parents should seek help. If you are worried your child is thinking about harming themselves, please contact 1-800-422-0009 right away or 211, Press 1.

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness, and/or crying

  • Persistent boredom; low energy

  • Hopelessness

  • Talk of, or efforts to run away from home

  • Social isolation, poor communication

  • Low self-esteem and guilt

  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure

  • Increased irritability, anger or hostility

  • Difficulty with relationships

  • Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school

  • A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns

  • Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities

  • Thoughts or expression of suicide or self-destructive behavior*

  • Poor concentration

More Information

National Institute of Mental Health

Get more information about depression

Children's Mental Health Matters

Learn more about children's mental health.

Children’s Mental Health Matters Depression Fact Sheet

When a child’s sadness lasts longer than two weeks and interferes with their functioning, parents should be concerned. Learn about depression in children and youth.

September 7, 2018

Kids Are Back in School! Here Are Some Mental Health Tips for Families

This week throughout Maryland, kids returned to school after a long summer break. For many kids, it's a time of excitement as they reconnect with old friends, meet their teachers and get back into the school routine. For some kids, though, this time of transition can cause anxiety. …

May 14, 2018

Young People Celebrate Mental Health through Art

One of the annual highlights of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is the Celebrating Through Art: The First Lady's Mental Health Awareness Youth Art Display & Reception hosted by Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan in Annapolis, which was held last Monday.…

Children’s Mental Health Matters Depression Fact Sheet

When a child’s sadness lasts longer than two weeks and interferes with their functioning, parents should be concerned. Learn about depression in children and youth.

September 7, 2018

Kids Are Back in School! Here Are Some Mental Health Tips for Families

This week throughout Maryland, kids returned to school after a long summer break. For many kids, it’s a time of excitement as they reconnect with old friends, meet their teachers and get back into the school routine. For some kids, though, this time of transition can cause anxiety.

May 14, 2018

Young People Celebrate Mental Health through Art

One of the annual highlights of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is the Celebrating Through Art: The First Lady’s Mental Health Awareness Youth Art Display & Reception hosted by Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan in Annapolis, which was held last Monday.

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