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 that could 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 needs medical assessment and treatment and 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 and abuse as well as 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 NHS, 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
  • Experience feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • 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 your GP.

Relevant Contacts

For more information on anxiety and depression in young people, check out the NHS website.

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact the NSPCC helpline to speak to one of their counsellors. Call 0808 800 5000, email or fill in their online form.

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 analyse their feelings.