Depression is a common psychiatric disorder that distresses young people with chronic feelings of sadness and and worthlessness – the fundamental characteristic of this disorder is that ‘it robs a person of the capacity for pleasure’ (Child Mind Institute, US). All children go through their ups and downs and it is not uncommon for unhappiness to be triggered by events, but these feelings of sadness typically fade away when circumstances change.

Children suffering from depression don’t recover when events change, their flat mood and lack of interest in things they used to enjoy persists. Worldwide depressive disorders have a prevalence of 2.6% (Polanczyk et al., 2015) with onset usually appearing in adolescence. The disorder is also diagnosed twice as often in girls as it is in boys. The most common type of depression is referred to as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) where individuals present with chronic feelings of sadness or worthlessness, irritability, physical lethargy, insomnia, and in some cases thoughts of suicide. With these symptoms in mind, it is clear that suffering from depression significantly interferes with all aspects of a child’s life from school absences and social isolation to changes in appetite and sleep. Considering diagnostic criteria, the diagnosis of depression is given when these negative feelings, lack of interest in previous activities, and physical symptoms persist for at least 2 weeks. These symptoms must be a distinct shift from previous functioning, and again significantly interfere with quality of life and social relationships.

For more information on understanding Depression, including common symptoms, risk factors and intervention methods, please refer to our information sheet below: