It is normal for your growing child to be moody or somewhat irritable
as he or she moves through adolescence. But symptoms of prolonged sadness or
irritability and a loss of pleasure in activities the child enjoyed before can
point to depression. Depression is not a normal part of growing up. Deciding
whether your child's behavior is normal or a symptom of depression can be
A family history of
substance abuse, or
anxiety increases your child's risk for depression. A child is also more likely to become depressed if a parent is
Your child may need to be evaluated for depression if he or
Is continuously sad or irritable, and not just
with parents, but even with friends.
Is sad or irritable without a
known trigger (no recent experience, such as being rejected by peers, caused
the mood change).
Shows no pleasure with friendships or activities
enjoyed in the past, such as sports or hobbies.
Doesn't ask for added
privileges, such as driving the car or going out with friends on a school
Displays unprovoked or unexplained anger or anxiety,
especially in a preadolescent.
Complains of symptoms such as
headache or stomach pain that have no physical cause.
crying often and doesn't know why.
Has a sudden, noticeable
decrease in school performance.
Most children will experience some unexplained sadness or boredom now and then. Asking your child a few questions about how he or she is feeling
overall may help identify mild or moderate depression, which is more difficult
to recognize than symptoms of severe depression. Some examples of questions to
ask your child to help you decide if your child needs to see a health
professional for possible depression might include:
Do you feel angry most of the
Do you feel sad every day?
Do you laugh with your
Do you feel happy when you are doing things you enjoy,
like a favorite hobby or a sport?
Do you feel like you get upset
easily and you don't know why?
Do you stay sad or mad for a long
While questions such as these will not diagnose depression, they can
open the doors of communication with your child and help you decide whether
your child needs to be further assessed by a health professional.
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Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.