Signs of Depression in Children and Adolescents


  • Sadness, loneliness, unhappiness, helplessness, hopelessness, and pessimism.
  • Mood swings, moodiness, irritable, easily annoyed, cries easily, hypersensitive, negative, difficult to please, worrying and fearful.
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure.
  • Severely critical of themselves.
  • Feelings of being worthless, useless, dumb, stupid, ugly and guilty.
  • Self blame for things that are not their fault.
  • Beliefs of persecution, death wishes, suicidal thoughts and/or attempts.
  • Talk of, or efforts to, run away from home.
  • Successes are minimized while failures are maximized.
  • Difficult to get along with, difficult to reason with, quarrelsome, disrespectful of authority, Belligerent, hostile, agitated, excessive fighting or sudden intense anger.
  • Difficulty with family relationships.Suicidal thoughts, feelings, or plans.

Sleep Disturbance

Change in sleeping patterns such as:

  • Trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, early morning awakening or sleeping too much.

Change in School Performance

  • Significant drop in grades.
  • Frequent complaints from teachers: daydreaming, poor concentration, indecisiveness, poor memory.
  • Loss of usual effort in school subjects.Loss of usual interest in nonacademic school activities.Incomplete classroom assignments.
  • Much incomplete homework.
  • Finds homework difficult.
  • Inconsistency between home and school, for example seems fine at school but breaks down at home.
  • Diminished/excessive socialization.
  • Less group participation.
  • Less friendly, less outgoing, socially withdrawing.Loss of interest in activities formerly enjoyed.
  • Change in attitude toward School
  • Does not want or refuses, to attend school.

Physical Complaints

  • Non-migraine headaches, abdominal pain, muscle aches or pains.
  • Frequent physical complaints with no medical explanation.
  • Sometimes the family doctor or paediatrician may need to rule out physical illness or medical condition.
  • Loss of usual personal interests or pursuits other than school.
  • Decreased energy, mental and/or physical fatigue.
  • Increase or decrease in appetite.
  • Unusual loss or gain of weight.

Please Remember:

  • Every child is different and reacts in their own way.
  • Many children will only show a few of these symptoms.
  • If you are concerned about your child, contact your family doctor or paediatrician.

Reviewed by M. Kodsi, M.D., Child and Family Psychiatrist.


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