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Depression in Children and Teens - When To Call a Doctor

Call 911, the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), or other emergency services right away if:

  • Your child is thinking seriously of committing suicide or has recently tried to commit suicide. Serious signs include these thoughts:
    • Has decided how to kill himself or herself, such as with a weapon or pills.
    • Has set a time, place, and means to do it.
    • Thinks there is no other way to solve the problem or end the pain.
  • Your child feels he cannot stop from hurting himself or someone else.

Call a doctor right away if:

  • Your child hears voices.
  • Your child has been thinking about death or suicide a lot but does not have a plan to commit suicide.
  • Your child is worried a lot that the feelings of depression or thoughts of suicide are not going away.

Seek care soon if:

  • Your child has symptoms of depression, such as:
    • Feeling sad or hopeless, or being irritable.
    • Not enjoying anything.
    • Often complaining of stomachaches or headaches.
    • Having trouble with sleep.
    • Feeling guilty.
    • Feeling anxious or worried.
  • Your child has been treated for depression for more than 3 weeks but is not getting better.

Who to see

Treatment for depression may involve professional counseling, medicines, education about depression for your child and your family, or a combination of these. It is important that your child establish a long-term and comfortable relationship with the care providers for the treatment of depression.

Your child may be diagnosed and treated by more than one health professional, including a:

Professional counseling (or psychotherapy) for depression can be provided by a:

Other health professionals who also may be trained in counseling include a:

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

    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.
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