Depression in Children

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Understanding Depression Slideshow

Quick GuideDepression Pictures Slideshow: Physical Symptoms of Depression

Depression Pictures Slideshow: Physical Symptoms of Depression

How do health-care professionals diagnose depression in children? Who are specialists?

Many health-care providers can help determine if the diagnosis of clinical depression is appropriate in children, including licensed mental-health counselors, pediatricians, other primary-care providers, specialists seen for a medical problem, emergency room doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and social workers. These professionals will likely perform or refer for a thorough medical interview and physical examination as part of assigning the correct diagnosis. Depression is associated with a number of other mental-health conditions, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism-spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety disorders, so the evaluator will likely screen for signs and symptoms of manic depression (bipolar disorder), a history of trauma, and other mental-health symptoms. Childhood depression also may be associated with a number of medical problems, or it can be a side effect of various medications, exposure to drugs of abuse or other toxins. Therefore, routine laboratory tests are often done during the initial assessment to rule out other causes of symptoms. Sometimes, an X-ray, scan, or other imaging study may be needed. As part of the evaluation, the sufferer may be asked a series of questions from a standardized questionnaire or self-test to help determine the risk of depression and suicide.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/18/2015

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