Last updated: 4 January 2021
What is depression?
Depression is when there is a change in the person’s mood, thoughts and behaviour. The changes in mood typically involve a low mood, but in children and young people this also includes an irritable mood.
Depression can be mild, moderate or severe. A mild depression might not stop a child or young person from going about their everyday life. But a moderate or severe depression that stops a child from doing their normal activities is a cause for concern.
During severe depression, a child or young person might become overwhelmed by feelings of sadness and worthlessness. For this reason, severe depression can make a child or young person feel suicidal. It is important to recognize these signs so that the right support can be given early on to prevent serious harm.
Causes of depression
The cause of depression in children and young people can include a combination of different factors. Here are some factors to consider:
A history of depression in the family
Conflict or violence at home
Pressures at home or at school (e.g. having to take care of a sick relative or having many exams)
Big life changes (e.g. parent separation, death of loved one)
Trauma, physical or sexual abuse
Chronic illness (e.g. diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, irritable bowel syndrome)