6 Signs That Your Child May Be Depressed By: Krystalyn Davis, LCSW, MSW Picture by Canva

By Lisa Savage | Apr 18, 2023

Being a parent is a 24-hour job. You are noticing the slightest changes that occur. One of the changes can be in your child’s mood. There has been a myth that children cannot become depressed. But in reality, children can experience many emotions similar to adults.

For example, children have the ability to grieve when there is a loss, they have the ability to experience sadness when encountering rejection, disappointment when promises are broken, and the like. It is essential not to overlook your child’s response to life changes that may have occurred. Below are a few signs to look for if you suspect your child may be depressed.

  • Your child’s overall mood is sad, with not many changes.
  • Your child becomes socially withdrawn at home and school.
  • Your child quickly becomes irritated or angry.
  • Your child’s appetite starts to change (poor appetite during mealtime or overeating)
  • Your child’s sleeping patterns start to change – (insomnia or oversleeping)
  • Your child expresses thoughts of death or suicide (this may also come out in your child’s play, artistic activities, etc.

If you feel that your child exhibits three symptoms out of the six listed, it is worth exploring the possible factors affecting him or her with your child. It is always a good rule of thumb to rule out certain biological factors. For example, you may notice changes in eating habits and sleeping patterns. It may be that your child has physiological issues, such as a cold, virus, etc., that could be causing the changes. Check with your child’s pediatrician if you are unsure. If there is no biological explanation for the changes you observe, then you want to explore emotional-wellbeing possibilities. A few pointers would be to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have any recent changes occurred in the past six months that could affect my child? It could be anything from a change in school, moving to a new neighborhood, the birth of a sibling, a parent leaving home, the introduction of a stepparent/family, etc.
  2. Are you aware of any traumatic event your child may have been exposed to? Maybe your child heard, witnessed, or even experienced something life-changing affecting them. There may have been a period in between the actual event and the child’s response. Some children have a delayed reaction to situations.
  3. How are the family dynamics within your home? Most parents inwardly want to be the best that they can be for their children. However, certain dynamics may impact it, such as your work schedule, lack of family support, and changes in your energy level or health that can affect your attentiveness and availability to your child.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to seek professional help. Regarding minors, most therapists will want to include you as the parent in different parts of the treatment process. The first appointment would be to meet with you as a family to understand better what is happening, accompanied by some sessions with the child alone. You will be asked to participate more often, depending on what is disclosed. As a parent, you also want to receive tools on how to help best and support your child.


About The Author

Krystalyn Davis is a licensed clinical social worker with over 15 years of clinical experience. She received her undergraduate degree in Human Development & Family Science from Messiah University in Mechanicsburg, PA. Later she pursued her master’s degree from Fordham University in the Bronx, NY. Krystalyn has worked in several nonprofit sectors providing services for community centers, healthcare agencies, higher education institutions, and the military. Her latest endeavor is the development of The Family Life Project which is a non-profit organization that offers a variety of youth and family life services.   During her leisure time, she enjoys traveling, writing, and volunteering within her local church and community.  Visit her website for more articles and a free email subscription http://www.familylifeproject.us


Lisa Savage

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