Common Signs of Depression in ChildrenWith remote learning, upheavals in school and society, and the rising number of children with access to social media, there has been a corresponding rise in children with depression. While the occasional bout of sadness and gloominess is normal for children, learning how to watch for symptoms of real depression is important.

Depression is more than just a bad day or moodiness. Young children can experience depression, but the rising numbers show a likelihood of depression during puberty. Even though mood swings during puberty are normal, depression is not and should receive attention, rather than dismissing it as a normal part of puberty.

Signs of Depression in Children

  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Trouble concentrating on school or chores
  • Social withdrawal or anxiety
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Constant crankiness or angry outbursts
  • Being more sensitive to rejection or discipline
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Poor academic performance
  • Struggling with friends at school

It can be hard to know that your child is struggling with thoughts of death. You may want to dismiss their feelings quickly by telling them everything is okay. Yet inside their head, things are not okay, and your being dismissive of their feelings could make them feel worse.

Depression will be noticeable as a pattern of behaviors or feelings emerge. One or two rough days are different from consistent comments and feelings. Paying attention to your children’s behaviors over a longer period can help you determine whether this is a passing mood or a deep-rooted struggle.

Causes of Depression

The causes of depression are as varied in children as they are in adults.

  • Common Signs of Depression in Children 1Bullying in school
  • Cyberbullying
  • A mental health condition (ADHD, bipolar, OCD)
  • Loss of a pet or family member
  • Parents divorcing or other family changes
  • Moving to a new place
  • Parental depression or instability
  • A learning disability (autism, dyslexia)
  • Family history
  • Eating disorders
  • Feeling like they are not meeting the expectations set by parents, teachers, or peers

Learn to lean on your child’s teachers and other authorities to help you identify what could be causing the issues in your child. They may act one way at home and another way at school. There is also the chance that it could be apparent across all areas.

How to help

Creating a happy, stable, and safe home environment will help your child learn to cope with depression and set them up for success later in life.

Take time to listen to your child. Give them space to talk about their feelings, and ask questions that may help them express their thoughts or feelings. Depending on your child’s age and interests you might have a better chance by asking them to write things in a journal or maybe even express their feelings through some creative outlet.

Encourage free time playing, rather than constantly structured activities. There are a lot of options for sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities. Sometimes children who have been busy from a young age can feel a lot of pressure to do everything and don’t have a chance to actively engage their imaginations.

Common Signs of Depression in Children 2Go outside. Take walks, ride bikes, play in the yard, or plan a family hike. Fresh air, sunshine, and activity will help improve a lot of moods.

Plan downtime. So many people fill their days from waking to crashing in bed at night. It is important to teach your children how to rest. Even older children can benefit from the occasional nap. After school, they may need a chance to just lay on the couch for a little while to decompress. Allow transition periods between activities and plans.

Talk to your child’s pediatrician about the value of medication or counseling.

Keep a balance of healthy and fun snacks available in your home.

Core Verses and Prayer

It will help your child and you to spend time memorizing some core Bible verses. These verses remind both of you of the truths of God. Learning together, and reciting together in difficult moments can become a stabilizing practice for you both.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16

This verse is a cornerstone of the Christian faith, and many children memorize it in Sunday school or other Bible programs. It might be helpful to break it down and personalize it to help with encouraging you during your depression.

“For God so loved {insert name} that he gave his only Son, that {insert name} believes in him will not die but have eternal life.” Remind your child that God has promised eternal life not eternal death. Depression can make death seem like a better option than life.

Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”John 11:35-36

Remind your child that God knows their feelings of sorrow and pain. Your child will need to be reminded that they are not the only person who has ever felt this way. Not only has God felt and known sorrow, but many, many people are also familiar with it. Much as you want to keep your child free from pain and sorrow, it is impossible.

Common Signs of Depression in Children 3Let your child know that they are not the only person who feels this way sometimes. Depression can be an isolating feeling and realizing that other people know this feeling well can be comforting. If you have struggled with depression, you could share some of this with your child. Giving them someone to relate to is important.

Praying with and for your child is so important as they work through depression. You can teach them how to pray, let them cry, and tell God all their feelings. By encouraging them that God hears and listens to them you can give them a solid foundation of faith. You also can pray for them yourself, pray for the wisdom to help them, and pray that they will be comforted in the struggle.

Other passages: 1 John 4:16, Psalm 23, Psalm 126, Lamentations 3:25, Matthew 6:9-13

Substances and Tools

It is important to have honest conversations with your child about medications and substances. Teach them about the pros and cons of medication. Talk with them about how doctors decide on correct dosages and why it is important not to take a medication that is not their prescription. Your attitude about substances such as medications, drugs, and alcohol will influence them.

If you have guns in the house, ensure proper gun safety is used and taught to your children. Knives also should be used as a tool. Teach your child good knife skills in the kitchen. (Working together in the kitchen can also be a good chance to connect.) When children are taught safe practices around hand tools, power tools, guns, knives, matches, and cleaners from a young age they will have less curiosity that they could be used dangerously.

Information and skills are powerful tools that could help your child make good decisions when they need to. Rather than constantly locking things up and trying to hide them, empower your children with knowledge about what tools are for. Medications are for helping headaches, illnesses, etc.

Knives are for cutting food. Matches are for candles or controlled fires. Cleaners are for specific jobs. Taking away the forbidden element can cut down on the desire to experiment dangerously.

“Ominous Clouds”, Courtesy of Tom Barrett,, CC0 License; “Mountain Silhouette”, Courtesy of Elliott Engelmann,, CC0 License; “Up-stretched Hands”, Courtesy of I.am_nah,, CC0 License; “Pink Clouds”, Courtesy of Andrea Ferrario,, CC0 License


Articles are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All opinions expressed by authors and quoted sources are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, publishers or editorial boards of San Diego Christian Counseling. This website does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.
Fill the details below

Join Our Newsletter
Never Miss The
Best Content