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What is Depression?

Depression affects approximately 5% of children and teenagers.  It is normal for teenagers and children to have days where they are sad and moody, however; if your child has been suffering from some of the symptoms below for more than 2 weeks and it is interfering with his/her ability to function, they might be suffering from depression.

What are the symptoms of Depression?

  • Persistent sad mood
  • Significant change in appetite or body weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or over-sleeping
  • Frequent vague, non-specific physical complaints, i.e. headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches, tiredness
  • Frequent absences from school or poor performance
  • Talk of or efforts to run away from home
  • Outbursts of shouting, complaining, unexplained irritability, or crying
  • Being bored
  • Lack of interest in playing with friends
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Social isolation, poor communication
  • Fear of death
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Increased irritability, anger or hostility
  • Reckless behavior
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

How is Depression Diagnosed?

There is no specific test to diagnosis depression.  Diagnosis is made following a thorough mental health evaluation that includes an interview with the child and parents.  Information from teachers and friends might be helpful to determine if the symptoms are consistent across settings and are a change from previous behaviors.  Additional psychological testing and use of tools such as questionnaires might also be useful.

How is Depression treated?

Psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two and targeted interventions involving the home and/or school environment are used in treating depression in children and teenagers.  Recent research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help relieve the symptoms of depression.  Family therapy and interpersonal therapy are also used.

For more information or to request an evaluation and treatment, please contact Children’s Behavioral Health at (402) 955-3900.

© Children's Hospital & Medical Center | In Affiliation with University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine