Is My Child Feeling Low?

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We all experience emotions of sadness at times, and those emotions are completely ok. In this article we reflect upon the difference between sadness and depression, and possible indications to help you discern what your child might be experiencing.


Everyone has days when they feel sad, lonely, low, or depressed. It's important to remember that any child can experience depression. It’s very common, and research shows that nearly one in four young people will experience depression before they reach adulthood.

But, if your child seems persistently sad or low and it is affecting their relationships, he or she may be suffering from childhood depression, which is a serious mental health condition that requires medical assessment and treatment. In such a case, help should be sought as soon as possible.

What Could be Making my Child Depressed?

Generally, depression is the result of a range of factors. While genetics can play a role, children and young people who feel "different" because of their abilities, interests, or looks may also be more at risk of childhood depression. As can those experiencing bullying, abuse, or family problems such as domestic violence or divorce.


Signs of Depression

Signs of depression in children and young people can include:

  • Sadness, or a low mood that doesn't go away
  • Not being interested in things they used to enjoy
  • Feeling irritable or grumpy all the time
  • Constantly feeling tired and exhausted

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children suffering from depression may also:

  • Have trouble sleeping or sleep more than usual
  • Not be able to concentrate (grades may drop)
  • Interact less with friends and family
  • Be indecisive
  • Display a lack of confidence
  • Eat less than usual or overeat
  • Experience significant changes in weight
  • Seem more sluggish than usual and fail to do simple tasks
  • Feel guilty or worthless
  • Experience feelings of emptiness or numbness
  • Notice aches and pains when nothing is really wrong
  • Have frequent thoughts about suicide, self-harming, or death
  • Engage in self-harm - for example, cutting or burning their skin


What Can I Do?

Use your one-on-one time to explore this topic with your child. If you think your child could be depressed, make an appointment with them to see their doctor.

Other Resources

The SafeToNet Mobile App helps identify when a child is showing signs of sadness or depression while messaging others, and shares resources & audio practices that can help your child cope with difficult emotions in the moment. SafeToNet's Emotions Diary feature also provides the child with a safe place to track, articulate, and analyze their feelings.