Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Depression: Is Your Child Depressed?

Depression in children can have dire lifelong consequences. Do you know the signs?
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Children are not immune to depressiondepression. Just like for adults, treatment can be critical. Finding help for a depressed child may forestall years of anguish, and may even save that child's life. Yet ongoing controversy over the safety of antidepressant drugs has left many wondering what really helps or harms.

Few, least of all parents, think childhood is a state of constant bliss. Children's moods are like tropical seas: Tranquil waters can suddenly whip into a howling storm, returning just as quickly to sunshine and fair breezes. Depression, however, should not be confused with normal moodiness. It's as real and serious for children -- even very young children -- as it is for adults.

"It's relatively recent that we are recognizing depression in children," says David Fassler, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. "When I went to medical school some 20-odd years ago, we were taught that kids didn't get depressed."

But kids do get depressed. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, an estimated 2% of young children, and 4% to 8% of adolescents, suffer from depression.

While depression definitely exists in some younger kids, it's much more common in teenagers. Researchers predict that about one in 10 kids will develop a depressive disorder by age 16. That's based on a study in which 1,420 kids were evaluated for mental disorders every three months until their 16th birthday.

Depression in Children Has Lifelong Repercussions

Depression can have harsh and lasting consequences for children. It can lead to setbacks in a child's social life, emotional growth, and performance in school, as well as substance abuse.

"Without treatment, an average episode of depression in kids will last about nine months, which is about the length of a school year," Fassler says. "It's very difficult to catch back up."

Making matters worse, people who struggle with depression as kids may feel the impact in adulthood. A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that adults diagnosed with depression as adolescents were at a disadvantage compared with those who never had depression. The findings showed:

  • Their average income was lower.
  • Fewer of them graduated from college.
  • They were more likely to be unemployed.
  • More reported having problems in their work and their social and family lives.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
jk rowling
Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
jk rowling
Pills with smiley faces
Teen girl huddled outside house
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
antidepressants slideshow
pill bottle
Winding path