Some children and adolescents experience symptoms that are beyond the range of normal sadness. Depression can be diagnosed when feelings of sadness or irritability persist and interfere with a child or adolescent's ability to function. About 5 percent of children and adolescents in the general population suffer from depression at any given point in time. Children who are under stress, who experience loss, or who have attentional, learning, conduct or anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for depression. Depression also tends to run in families. The good news is that depression is a treatable illness.
For additional information see:
- The Depressed Child
- Excerpts on Depressive Disorders from AACAP's book, Your Child
- Excerpts on Depressive Disorders from AACAP's book, Your Adolescent
- AACAP Glossary of Symptoms and Illnesses - Symptoms of Depression
- The National Institute of Mental Health Site on Depression in Children and Adolescents
Choose a topic:
- What causes depression in children?
- What are the signs and symptoms of depression?
- Will depression improve without treatment?
- What should treatment consist of?
- Does psychotherapy work? How?
- Are medications safe? Do they increase risk of suicide?
AACAP's Facts for Families provide concise up-to-date information on issues that affect children, teenagers, and their families
|Depression and Antidepressants
Graham Emslie, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry
Division Chief, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
University of Texas
Southwestern Medical Center
Considered resources for experts, mental health professional and physicians, AACAP's practice parameters were developed to guide clinical decision making. They show the best treatments and the range of treatment options available to families living with childhood and adolescent mental illness.
Other Clinical Resources
Lifelong Learning Modules
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) developed The Use of Medication in Treating Childhood and Adolescent Depression: Information for Patients and Families. Both the ParentsMedGuide and PhysiciansMedGuide were designed to help individuals make informed decisions about childhood and adolescent depression treatment.
Scientific Articles and Information
The Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study
Fluoxetine, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, and Their Combination for Adolescents With Depression
Treatment for Adolescents With Depression Study (TADS) Randomized Controlled Trial
Treatment for Adolescents With Depression Study (TADS) Team
Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy for Anxiety and Depressive Disorders in Children and Adolescents: An Evidence-Based Medicine Review
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry:
August 2004 - Volume 43 - Issue 8 - pp 930-959
Scientific Programs from the AACAP Annual Meeting
2008 Annual Meeting Sessions
Click here to search the Annual Meeting Sessions.
Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS)
A combination of psychotherapy and antidepressant medication appears to be the most effective treatment for adolescents with major depressive disorder - more than medication alone or psychotherapy alone, according to results from a major clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The study was published in the October 2007 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Getting help is the most important thing that parents can do for children and adolescents with depression. Parents should try to find a mental health professional who has advanced training and experience with evaluating and treating children, adolescents, and families. It is important to find a comfortable match between your child, your family, and the mental health professional.
A child and adolescent psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of thinking, feeling and behavior that affect children, adolescents, and their families. Child and adolescent psychiatrists have completed four years of medical school, at least three years of residency training in medicine, neurology, or general psychiatry with adults, and two years of additional training in psychiatric work with children, adolescents, and their families.
Bear in mind that because of the extensive training required, there is a nationwide shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists. To learn more about other mental health professionals and places where families can find help, read Where to Find Help For Your Child.
- When To Seek Help For Your Child
- Understanding Your Mental Health Insurance
- Advocating For Your Child