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Can Kids Have Depression? Yes, & Here's How To Help Them

Though it's normal for children to go through their fair share of mood swings as they tumble through their early years, many parents aren't sure how to determine if it's more than a bad day. Consistently negative or sad behavior on your child's part can be exhausting for you as a parent, not to mention concerning. It can leave you wondering, can kids have depression?

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), it is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Though it's common for children to experience short periods of moodiness, sadness, and crying, the AADA noted that if your child's symptoms last for longer than two weeks, you may be dealing with a child who has depression. The symptoms of depression in children can be difficult to examine, just as they are in adults. And because depressions can manifest itself in many different forms, it is important to note any noticeable changes in your child's behavior.

According to WebMD, depression doesn't just manifest itself as sadness. It can present itself as frustration, irritability, anger, hopelessness, social withdrawal, outbursts, fatigue, changes in appetite, and more. Whether your child is experiencing an extended bout of one or more of these symptoms, it's important to facilitate a comfortable environment where your child can express their feelings, and safely address how they're feeling. As anyone with depression knows, it can often be difficult to put the effects of your depression into words, so patience with your child as they explore their life with depression is key.

WebMD went on to state that the causes of depression in children are varied and numerous, just as it is in adults. According to the site:

Depression in children can be caused by any combination of factors that relate to physical health, life events, family history, environment, genetic vulnerability and biochemical disturbance. Depression is not a passing mood, nor is it a condition that will go away without proper treatment.

Though depression isn't normally an illness that we associate with kids, Robert L. Hendren, past president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), told Parenting that it should be. The AACAP estimated that as many as one in 20 children and adolescents suffers from depressions, meaning that in most classrooms, at least one child is depressed. According to WebMD, if your child has been showing symptoms for more than two weeks, you should take them to see a professional in order to explore their depression and symptoms further. It's important to note that depression is treated differently in children than it is in adults, and that any treatment should be administered through your healthcare professional in order to give your child the best care possible.