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So how do you know if a child is depressed? The National Institute of Mental Health recommends you seek help if a child or adolescent shows 5 or more of the following symptoms consistently over a 2-week period.

Is my child depressed?

___ A child cries a lot or feels sad, and this sadness won’t go away

___ Feelings of guilt for no apparent reason

___ Complains of headache, stomachache, or other bodily pains with no apparent medical cause

___ A sense of hopelessness; life feels meaningless, they feel like nothing good is ever going to happen again, and has a negative attitude a lot of the time

___ Lack of interest in activities a child used to enjoy

___ Wants to be left alone most of the time

___ Trouble making decisions, even seemingly simple ones

___ Trouble concentrating in school; often forgetful

___ Easily irritable; overreacts when things don’t go their way

___ Changes in sleep patterns (either sleeping more than usual or having difficulty falling asleep) ___ Changes in eating habits (either a loss of appetite or eating more than usual)

___ Feeling tired and restless

___ Thinking about death or feeling like they are dying

___ Thoughts of suicide

A checked box on 5 or more of these 14 symptoms is a pretty good indication that your child is suffering from clinical depression (though it does not amount to an official diagnosis). If a child exhibits 5 or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean they ARE depressed, it just means they could be depressed and you should examine the situation closer.

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