Is My Child Depressed? 3 Lesser Known Signs of Depression in Children and Adolescents -by Emily Hasselquist, LCSW

Depression in children and adolescents can look very different than it does in adults.  While feelings of sadness and hopelessness are still common symptoms, there are many other warning signs to be aware of.  Below are 3 lesser known symptoms to look for beyond what we typically think of when we hear the term depression:

  1. Anger

Many children and teens appear to be angry or irritable when depressed.  While this may seem the opposite of what typically occurs, children often mask their feelings of sadness by acting out or getting angry.  Mood swings can negatively impact a child both at home and school, and may be a sign that your child is experiencing depression.

  1. Physical Complaints

Children who are experiencing depression may have regular physical complaints such as stomachaches or headaches. These symptoms may result in absences from school.  Other noticeable changes in children and teenagers who are experiencing depression include changes in appetite, weight loss or weight gain, change in sleep patterns, and fatigue.

  1. Loss of Interest

Children who are depressed may lose interest in activities they once used to enjoy.  Withdrawing from sports, hobbies, social activities, and peer groups can be an indicator that your child or teen is depressed.  Poor academic performance from a teenager who previously was a high-achieving student or a child wanting to quit their beloved soccer team are both examples of loss of interest in a child that may be dealing with depression.

One of the most important indicators that your child is experiencing depression is when you see a change.  While all children and adolescents are going through physical and emotional changes during this developmental period, major changes in mood, appearance, or behavior should be investigated further.  It is completely normal that your child may have a couple days where they are feeling sad or experiencing these symptoms, but if these symptoms last for more than two weeks and begin impacting your child or teen’s daily functioning, it is time to seek help.

If you are concerned your child may be experiencing depression, the staff at Gurnee Counseling Center can help.  Your child’s physician may also be a good resource to discuss your concerns.  Please contact us at 847-336-5621 for further information.