Healthy Minds

Emotional Growth


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 where they could do something to address the situations.

When children feel persistent sadness and hopelessness, they may be diagnosed with depression. Some children may not talk about helpless and hopeless thoughts, and they may not appear sad.

Depression might also cause a child to make trouble or act unmotivated, so others might not notice that the child is depressed or may incorrectly label the child as a trouble-maker or lazy.

Signs and symptoms

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable a lot of the time
  • Social isolation, poor communication
  • Not wanting to do or enjoy doing fun things
  • Difficult with relationship
  • Changes in eating patterns – eating a lot more or a lot less than usual
  • Changes in sleep patterns – sleeping a lot more or a lot less than normal
  • 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
  • Self-injury and self-destructive behavior


Depression is a real illness that requires professional help. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for depressed children. Some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety or depression are shared with other conditions, such as trauma.

Specific symptoms like having a hard time focusing could be a sign of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is important to get a careful evaluation to get the best diagnosis and treatment from a qualified mental health professional.


The first step to treatment is to talk with a healthcare provider to get an evaluation. Comprehensive treatment often includes both individual and family therapy.

Parents should ask their physician to refer them to a qualified mental health professional, who can diagnose and treat depression in children. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) are forms of individual therapy shown to be effective in treating depression.

Treatments can also include a variety of ways to help the child feel less stressed and be healthier like nutritious food, physical activity, sufficient sleep, predictable routines, and social support.