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Find out more about childhood depression and ways to support your child.
If you think your child may be depressed, contact your Mercy pediatrician right away. Depending on your child’s symptoms, you may be referred to a Mercy behavioral health specialist for evaluation.
Here are a few ways you can support a child who struggles with depression:
Yes. Children who experience severe stress from events like accidents, natural disasters, the death of a loved one, abuse, violence or other traumas may be affected long-term. Experiencing these events directly or witnessing them can lead to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental or physical health conditions. Talk with your Mercy provider about any traumas your child has experienced.
Even if it’s challenging, communication is crucial when your child is depressed. Focus on listening to your child without interruption, and try to understand what they’re going through. Repeat what your child says to show you’ve heard, and empathize with their feelings (e.g., “I can see how much this hurts you.”). And if your child finds it too difficult to talk, just sitting with them lets them know you care.
Treatment options for children with depression may include talk therapy, medication or a combination of both. Mercy’s behavioral health specialists offer a full range of treatments and personalized plans to help children manage depression and thrive.
Available research shows kids without siblings don’t have a higher risk of depression. One study found that only children may actually be happier than kids with siblings. Another found teens who have siblings were up to twice as likely to have depression.
Children with depression often show the following signs and symptoms:
Exact causes of childhood depression are unknown, but experts believe several factors may contribute to it. Girls are more likely than boys to develop depression, and having a family history of the condition raises the risk for all kids. Imbalances in brain chemistry, having a chronic illness and experiencing trauma may also lead to childhood depression.
Childhood depression is more than an occasional bout of sadness. It’s a serious condition that causes persistent sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest, irritability and other symptoms. If your child experiences one or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks, contact your child’s Mercy pediatrician right away. You may also be referred to a Mercy behavioral health specialist who can evaluate your child and determine if it’s depression.
Mercy offers specialized care for pediatric mental health.
Find a behavioral health clinic near you.