Symptoms of depression in kids and teens

  • Children
  • Thursday, 14 May 2020

Depression doesn’t just affect adults – children and teenagers can get depressed, too.

But it can be difficult for teachers or parents to spot the signs of depression in young people. Small children tend to cry a lot even when they are healthy, for example, and in teenagers, symptoms such as sadness or irritability are often just a part of puberty.

Medical specialists often have an easier time recognising the signs of depression, so if you have any doubts, it’s best to get a professional involved.

To help you decide whether intervention is needed, the German Depression Help Organization has created a list of symptoms categorised by age group:

Ages one to three

Increased crying, expressionless face, heightened irritability, severe clinginess, cannot be left alone, self-stimulating behaviour like constant rocking of the body or excessive sucking of the thumb, lack of joy or desire to play, disturbed eating habits and/or sleep disorders.

Ages three to six

Frequent sad facial expression or lack of any facial expression or gestures, increased irritability, unstable mood, anxiety, lack of joy or desire to play, apathy, introverted behaviour, restlessness, poor or aggressive behaviour, eating and drinking and/or sleep disorders.

Ages six to 12

Reports feeling of sadness, difficulty concentrating or poor memory, decline in school performance, fear of the future, anxiety, inappropriate feelings of guilt and unfair self-criticism, slow movements or lack of coordination, self-absorbed attitude, loss of appetite, sleep disorders and thoughts of suicide.

Ages 13 to 18

Decreased self-confidence, self-doubt, constant fears, listlessness, difficulty concentrating, moodiness, time-dependent changes in well-being, impaired performance in school or hobbies, feeling unable to cope with social and emotional demands, isolation and social withdrawal, psychosomatic complaints such as headache, weight loss, sleep disorders and thoughts of suicide. – dpa

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