Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Comparing Symptoms of Normal Moodiness With Depression in Children

Font Size

Topic Overview

It is normal for your growing child to be moody or somewhat irritable as he or she moves through adolescence. But symptoms of prolonged sadness or irritability and a loss of pleasure in activities the child enjoyed before can point to depression. Depression is not a normal part of growing up. Deciding whether your child's behavior is normal or a symptom of depression can be difficult.

A family history of depression, substance abuse, or anxiety increases your child's risk for depression. A child is also more likely to become depressed if a parent is depressed.

Your child may need to be evaluated for depression if he or she:

  • Is continuously sad or irritable, and not just with parents, but even with friends.
  • Is sad or irritable without a known trigger (no recent experience, such as being rejected by peers, caused the mood change).
  • Shows no pleasure with friendships or activities enjoyed in the past, such as sports or hobbies.
  • Doesn't ask for added privileges, such as driving the car or going out with friends on a school night.
  • Displays unprovoked or unexplained anger or anxiety, especially in a preadolescent.
  • Complains of symptoms such as headache or stomach pain that have no physical cause.
  • Breaks down crying often and doesn't know why.
  • Has a sudden, noticeable decrease in school performance.

Most children will experience some unexplained sadness or boredom now and then. Asking your child a few questions about how he or she is feeling overall may help identify mild or moderate depression, which is more difficult to recognize than symptoms of severe depression. Some examples of questions to ask your child to help you decide if your child needs to see a health professional for possible depression might include:

  • Do you feel angry most of the time?
  • Do you feel sad every day?
  • Do you laugh with your friends?
  • Do you feel happy when you are doing things you enjoy, like a favorite hobby or a sport?
  • Do you feel like you get upset easily and you don't know why?
  • Do you stay sad or mad for a long time?

While questions such as these will not diagnose depression, they can open the doors of communication with your child and help you decide whether your child needs to be further assessed by a health professional.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 03, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Comparing Symptoms of Normal Moodiness With Depression in Children Topics

Hot Topics

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

tea
What you should eat.
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Is yours working?
woman using breath spray
What's causing yours?
colon xray
Get the facts.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
Eat for a healthy heart.
woman doing pushups
To help you get fit.
Colored x-ray of tooth decay
Know what to look for.
Woman sitting with child
Do you know the symptoms?
fruit drinks
Foods that can help you focus.
Sad dog and guacamole
Don't feed this to your dog.
Thyroid exam
See how much you know.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.