Childhood Depression: Is Your Tween at Risk?

Get the Facts

Childhood depression affects about one out of every 33 younger kids and one in eight adolescents, according to facts provided by the U.S. Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), Yet despite the pervasiveness of the problem, as many as two-third of these young people don't ever receive any treatment.

Complicating the problem is the fact that many young people aren't mature enough to be able to effectively describe their feelings and recognize that something is wrong.

A Host of Symptoms

If your child has early onset depression, he may be at risk for a number of serious problems, including poor socialization, increased health problems, lack of decision making skills and difficulty in school. But with proper treatment, this condition can be effectively controlled in most tweens.

Review the following list of possible warning signs of childhood depression.

  • Intense sadness and feelings of despair or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities and isolation from friends
  • Easily irritated
  • Doing poorly in school
  • Frequent physical ailments
  • Reliance on alcohol or drugs
  • Talk of death or suicide threats

The Need to Seek Medical Help

If you notice any of these symptoms in your child or see any other worrisome changes, it's essential to talk to a professional for advice. Tweens who are prone to childhood depression may also experience other challenges that can occur at the same time. These include such things as bi-polar disease and eating disorders.  In addition, children with depression are at increased risk for committing suicide. In fact, estimates provided by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) reveal that suicide is the sixth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 5 to 15 years old, and this number has risen significantly over the past several decades.

These facts should serve as a warning call for parents and the medical community to reach out to children experiencing difficulties and get them the help they need.

What You Can Do

You can help your tween by paying attention to any worrisome behaviors and asking questions to determine your child's state of mind and issues that arise.

You can also make an effort to educate yourself about mental illness and the different treatment options that exist. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a wealth of information for children and families who are dealing with the effects of depression and other brain disorders. NAMI can also help you find a support group in your area so you can connect with other local families that are dealing with similar situations.




National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

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