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.