Children and Depression

This is how to determine whether your child’s problem goes beyond run-of-the-mill sadness, and what can be done to help kids with depression.

All kids have periods of sadness, says Ron Steingard, M.D., associate medical director of the Child Mind Institute in New York City. But depression is something else entirely. “It’s not just that they’re sad,” he says. “It’s that they’re in a very low energy state and that it persists over a long period of time.”

It’s estimated that 2 percent of children (and between 4 and 8 percent of adolescents) suffer from depression. It’s most often diagnosed in adolescents but can affect children in elementary school. At younger ages, the illness affects boys and girls equally, but in adolescence the illness begins to affect more girls than boys. This continues into adulthood, with depression affecting 12 percent of women and nearly 7 percent of men.

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