Feeling sad or fed up is a normal reaction to experiences that are difficult or stressful. Sometimes these feelings of sadness can go on for some time and can start to interfere with everyday life. At these times the low moods become part of an illness we call ‘depression’.

What are the symptoms?

When a child or young person is depressed many changes can be seen. The child or young person may:

  • lose interest in activities that child/young person enjoyed before
  • lose their appetite or start over-eating
  • have problems of concentration, in remembering things or in making decisions
  • have thoughts of suicide or self harm
  • have disturbed sleep or sleep far too much
  • feel tired all the time, exhausted
  • complain of aches and pains like headaches, tummy pains
  • have little self-confidence
  • express feelings of guilt for no reason

A child or young person with depression can have major problems in not only how they feel, but also on how they behave. This may cause difficulties at home, at school, as well as relationships with family and friends.

What can I do?

Recognising and understanding your child’s illness is a huge step in knowing how you can help. When your child becomes irritable or even does something risky, it is common you feel angry or upset. It is important that you try to remain calm and be honest about letting them know what you feel and seek help.

Some children may be reluctant to talk to you about it, but it is  important to encourage them to talk to someone they can trust, as well as seeking professional help.

Content adapted from the Royal College of Psychiatrists. For more in depth information visit their website.