The statistics for childhood depression are alarming – 10% of kids aged 6 to 12 experience persistent symptoms of depression and 2% develop severe depression. Five percent of teens meet criteria for a major depressive disorder. What’s even more concerning is that due to the fact that kids and teens often aren’t able to recognise or verbalise that they’re depressed, their depression can go undetected. Unless parents know what to look for it’s also easy to misinterpret symptoms of depression as laziness, moodiness, or “teenage angst”.

What Are The Symptoms Of Depression In Kids + Teens

Symptoms for child and adolescent depression are the same as that for adult depression, but there are subtle differences in how depression presents in kids and teens:

  • Irritability and agitation
  • Teariness
  • Reduced participation in normal activities
  • Feeling bored and apathetic
  • A lack of motivation
  • Changes in appearance (e.g. wearing black)
  • Increased sensitivity to perceived criticism or rejection
  • Wanting to spend more time away from friends and family
  • Risk taking without caring about the consequences
  • A loss of appetite or eating more than usual
  • Sleeping more or less than usual and feeling lethargic
  • Trouble concentrating
  • A decline in school performance
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches

Is Self-Harm A Symptom Of Depression In Teens?

Teens with more severe depression may also present with suicidal ideation or urges to self-harm. The most common form of self-harm in teens is cutting or medication overdose. While self-harm doesn’t necessarily mean that a child or teen intends to end their life, when self-harm is suspected a safety plan should be put in place.

Click here for more information about teen self-harm including what you can do to keep your child safe and how to help your teen cope with peer self-harm.