Catching the Early Signs of Childhood Depression

While most of the public believes that childhood depression is a relatively rare condition, around 5 percent of children and teenagers experience depression. That means that out of every twenty children you meet, one of them will struggle with the disorder at some point.

Yet, as a society, we tend to treat this mental illness as something that doesn’t need to be readily and frequently addressed in school and at home. Recognizing the signs of childhood depression can be difficult, but it’s incredibly important for parents to catch it as soon as possible.

What can cause childhood depression?

There can be many, many causes of childhood depression, but here are the main culprits:


  • Hormones. During adolescence, there’s a lot going on hormonally. It’s not abnormal for the body to mess up a bit and change the balance of hormones. This change can lead to the development of depression.
  • Family History. While we may not understand the full reasons behind it, those who have blood relatives with depression are more likely to develop the condition themselves.
  • Childhood Trauma. A huge cause of childhood depression is adverse experiences during childhood. This could be anything from a car accident to loss of a loved one to a natural disaster. These types of events can trigger the brain to make changes that make an individual more likely to develop depression.
  • Biology. Sometimes it just has to do with how your brain is wired. If there’s a chemical imbalance in the brain, it cause neurotransmitters to mess up their jobs, causing depression.


Any of the above could be the reason for childhood depression. The thing is, there doesn’t have to be a specific reason for depression. Many people choose not to seek out help because they’re embarrassed they’re feeling the effects of depression.

If they have everything they could ever want, why are they still unhappy? Depression doesn’t need a specific reason to develop–sometimes it just happens.

Identifying signs of childhood depression

For the best chance of recovery and success, it’s critical to catch depression early. The earlier it’s caught, the better chance of it being treated more effectively. Parents need to look out for signs of childhood depression in order to catch it quickly:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Frequently sad, crying
  • No longer interested in previously enjoyed activities
  • Often bored or low-energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Strong sensitivity to failure
  • More irritable or hostile than normal
  • Issues concentrating
  • Major change in sleeping and/or eating patterns
  • Problems keeping friends or relationships
  • Self-destructive or self-harming behavior

If you recognized any of these signs and they persist, it could be signaling childhood depression. As a parent, you have a responsibility to seek out professional help if you believe your child may be struggling with a mental health issue.

Elevations is here for your family

Elevations RTC is a residential treatment center for struggling teens, ages 13 to 18. Our students often grapple with anxiety, defiance, trauma, childhood depression, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral issues.

At Elevations, we use a combination of a focused therapeutic lens, real-world environment, secure setting, and caring staff to foster growth and success in our students. Dealing with childhood depression can be difficult for a family, which is why Elevations is here to help guide you through it.

For more information about how we help with childhood depression at Elevations RTC, please call .

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