How can I tell if my child is depressed?

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Adults aren’t the only ones who can become depressed. Although it may be more common for adolescents to experience depression, this illness can occur in kids as young as 3 years old.

All kids get sad sometimes, but when that sadness begins to disrupt their lives, it’s important to pay close attention to your child’s behavior. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as many as 11 percent of young children and adolescents have depression. Depression is dangerous for kids because it puts them at risk for illnesses, substance abuse, social difficulties, and suicide.

It can be difficult to identify, however, so the better you know your kids, the more likely you’ll be able to notice changes that can signify a bigger problem. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Is your child suddenly disinterested in school and activities?
  • Does he or she seem withdrawn from family or social activities?
  • Does your child seem moody, prone to bouts of anger or crying?
  • Is your child having difficulty sleeping? Disinterested in eating? Or eating too much?
  • Has your child been experimenting with drugs or alcohol?

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.