Skip to content

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Depression in Children and Teens - Cause

Depression is thought to be caused by an imbalance of chemicals called neurotransmitters that send messages between nerve cells in your brain. Some of these chemicals, such as serotonin, help regulate mood. If these mood-influencing chemicals get out of balance, depression or other mood disorders can result. Experts have not yet identified why neurotransmitters become imbalanced. They believe a change can occur as a response to stress or illness. But a change may also occur with no obvious trigger.

There are several things known to increase the chances that a young person may become depressed.

  • Depression runs in families. Children and teens who have a parent with depression are more likely to develop depression than children with parents who are not depressed. Experts believe that both inherited traits (genetics) as well as living with a parent who is depressed can cause depression.
  • Depression in children and teens may be linked to stress, social problems, and unresolved family conflict. It can also be linked to traumatic events, such as violence, abuse, or neglect.
  • Certain thinking patterns and coping styles may make some children and teens more likely to develop depression.
  • Children or teens who have long-term or serious medical conditions, learning problems, or behavior problems are more likely to develop depression.
  • Some medicines can trigger depression, such as steroids or narcotics for pain relief. As soon as the medicine is stopped, symptoms usually disappear.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse may trigger depression in children and teens.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    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.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    contemplation
    Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
    light therapy
    What are the symptoms?
     
    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
    woman relaxing with exercise ball
    Article
     
    Pills with smiley faces
    Article
    Teen girl huddled outside house
    Article
     
    Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
    Article
    antidepressants slideshow
    Article
     
    pill bottle
    Article
    Winding path
    Article