Depression is characterized by sad mood, irritability, and hopelessness. Children with depression can also present as hyperactive and exhibit challenging behaviors. They can experience sleep disturbances including too much or too little sleep as well as appetite changes.
Assessing Signs & Symptoms of Child Depression:
Assessment of depression or other mood disorders typically includes:
- interview with a parent
- interview with the child
- parent and teacher completed questionnaires
- If developmentally appropriate, the child may also complete a questionnaire.
Treatment Options for Child Depression:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for children and adolescents is typically a short-term treatment (i.e., often between 6-20 sessions) that focus on teaching young people and their parents specific skills. CBT focuses on how a person’s thoughts (i.e. cognitions), emotions, and behaviors are connected and how they affect one another. For example, if a child sees two children playing together and thinks, “they don’t want to play with me”, the emotion that follows is likely hurt and sadness and the subsequent behavior might be withdrawing and playing alone. Because emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are all linked, CBT approaches allow for therapists to intervene at different points in the cycle.
Interpersonal Therapy(IPT) is a short-term therapy that focuses on the relationship between interpersonal relationships and depressive symptoms. Treatment goals include (1) diagnosing depression explicitly in order to educate the client about depression, its causes, and the various treatments available for it; (2) identifying the way in which depressive symptoms are interfering with interpersonal relationships in order to develop coping strategies.
Additional Resources Related to Child Depression