Childhood Depression - What are the signs?

All children can feel sad and a bit down sometimes. Maybe things didn’t go their way, they might have lost someone close or they got hurt or bullied at school or by siblings. However, children with depression not only feel sad or irritable, they may perceive that nothing is worthwhile and that things will never get better, they are likely to experience a deep sense of helplessness. Hence Childhood Depression affects the way they think, how they see themselves and how they visualise their future. A child with depression does not seem to enjoy the things other children normally like doing, and may be irritable and angry, and stop participating in family activities and having fun.

Signs of depression in children

When asked to explain how they’re feeling, children often find it difficult to do so. This is particularly so if they are depressed. Fortunately there are signs that may give parents a clue as to whether their child may be experiencing depression. If you think that your child may be depressed, please ask to see one of our child Psychologists at the clinic. If your child displays or experiences some of the symptoms and key signs listed below, he or she may be suffering from childhood depression:

  • Has low energy and poor motivation, no get-up-and-go.  
  • Has lost interest in one or more activities that was usually enjoyed.
  • Does not seem to pay attention and has poor concentrating at home and at school.
  • Makes negative comments about self. e.g. "I am not good at this; I'll never get it right; You don't love me; I wish I was dead; I wish I was never born; They're all against me" 
  • Always seems to seems to see the negatives, rather than seeing the positives in situations. 
  • Procrastinates and has frequent avoidant behaviours.
  • Is very difficult to please, 
  • Is easily irritated, agitated, easily annoyed or upset, and can fly into an anger outburst.
  • Seems sad and cries easily, and be difficult to soothe.
  • May either have no interest in food or on the other hand may overeat.
  • Has problems falling sleep or staying asleep, restless sleeper, sleeping too little or too much; wakes up unrefreshed.

Should you take it seriously?

Parents may feel annoyed by these behaviours and blame or punish the child for whingeing too much or having outbursts. If your child has suicidal ideation, take it very seriously. Sometimes its a way of asking for help and other times its a cry of desperation, rather than an actual intention to harm themselves.  Either way, they need urgent support, please call the clinic for help from one of our child psychologists.