Childhood Depression: Signs and What to Do - The Reynolds Clinic LLC

Closing Practice Letter

Behavioral Challenges Blog

Childhood Depression

When we think of depression in adulthood we usually visualize someone appearing sad, perhaps tearful or withdrawn. Depression in children, however, can appear in ways that adults don’t always recognize as such. In addition, rarely do young children report being depressed, usually because they don’t have a concept of what it is. And to complicate matters even further, childhood depression may also often be accompanied by other problems usually related to learning and behavior. Find out about other mood disorders such as anxiety – here.

Symptoms of Depression

When a child comes across as chronically irritable or sullen or when they seem to be constantly arguing or fighting, how often do we stop to consider what might be causing these attitudes or behaviors? When your children may spend hours alone playing video games or watching television, overeat, have trouble going to sleep, do poorly or act out in school or get caught shop-lifting, could they be telling us through their behavior that they are depressed? Since we usually just want these behaviors to stop, we may be too quick to administer consequences and not stop to ask ourselves the more fundamental question… Why does he keep doing this?

It is these very kinds of behaviors which can indicate that a child is depressed. This is not to say that there should never be consequences for problematic behavior; just that we should not be so quick to jump to conclusions about why a child does what he does, especially when there is a repetitive pattern to his behavior. Mistreated or untreated behavioral patterns such as these can lead to low self-esteem and a downward spiral of underachievement. Moreover, since the entire family is inevitably affected, the quality of the family life is often eroded, episode by episode, leading to chronic resentment and alienation.

Mental Health and Medical Advice

If, despite your best efforts to curb your child’s negative behaviors, they persist, you should seriously consider the possibility that your child might be depressed or have some mental illness and have him evaluated (see Evaluation). More effective behavioral interventions can then be designed to get your child and the family on to a better track (see Parent Coaching).

In addition, Neurofeedback can be an effective and powerful way to raise your child’s spirits (see Neurofeedback for children and adolescents).