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Depression in Children

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Occasionally being sad or feeling hopeless is a part of every child’s life. However, some children feel sad or uninterested in things that they used to enjoy, or feel helpless or hopeless in situations they are able to change. When children feel persistent sadness and hopelessness, they may be diagnosed with depression.

Examples of behaviors often seen in children with depression include:
-Feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable a lot of the time
-Not wanting to do, or enjoy doing, fun things
-Showing changes in eating patterns – eating a lot more or a lot less than usual
-Showing changes in sleep patterns – sleeping a lot more or a lot less than normal
-Showing changes in energy – being tired and sluggish or tense and restless a lot of the time
-Having a hard time paying attention
-Feeling worthless, useless, or guilty
-Showing self-injury and self-destructive behavior

Some children may not talk about their helpless and hopeless thoughts, and may not appear sad. Depression might also cause a child to make trouble or act unmotivated, causing others not to notice that the child is depressed, or to incorrectly label the child as a trouble-maker or lazy.

Content source: National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention