Childhood depression



Depression is defined as the mood disorder manifested as persistent feeling of sadness along with loss of interest. Patient tend to present with signs and symptoms of sadness, emptiness, irritable mood, accompanied by somatic and cognitive changes. Previously it was considered that depression was usually found in adults and older age group but according to recent research, depression can be found in children as young as 3 years. Very little data is available till date but this issue needs special attention due to its severity and later consequences. Patients with early childhood depression experience problems at school, loss of energy and sleep problems. These children experience difficulties with concentration. Most of the times these patients present with suicidal behaviour or somatic complaints. Many school going children however may stay silent all the times. Due to the developmental nature of children, early childhood depression causes serious mental health issues as well as physical health problems.

Causes of childhood depression:

Childhood depression is a multifactorial disorder and  has both genetic as well as environmental factors. However depression can occur at any stage of  life regardless of the family history. Some of the causes of depression include following;

1. Genetic susceptibility

2. Positive family history ( first degree relatives )

3. Neurodegenerative disorders

4. Chronic pain

5. Traumatic events

6. Reduced social support

7. Financial problems

8. Interpersonal difficulties

Signs and symptoms of early childhood depression:

As the childhood depression is primarily a mood disorder that’s why most of the signs and symptoms of patients belong to mood changes. These signs and symptoms include following;

1. Feeling of sadness

2. Lack of interest

3. Sleep disturbance

4. Feeling of worthlessness

5. Concentration impairment

6. Suicidal thoughts

7. Fatigue and lack of energy

8. Feeling of guilt and depressed mood

Management of early childhood depression:

parent-child dyadic psychotherapeutic interventions are currently recommended as the first line of treatment for early childhood depression. Dyadic approaches play a vital role to psychotherapies given the fundamental reliance of the child on the caregiver for socioemotional and adaptive functioning. Parent-child psychotherapy has been introduced recently to treat early childhood depression. Management of early childhood depression is a challenging issue as no systemic treatment studies are available yet. Depression in younger children is characterized by unique alterations in neurotransmitters, that’s why no pharmacological management is available till date.


Depression is a primarily mood disorder which manifests as persistent feeling of sadness and lack of interest. Patients usually present with sadness, emptiness, feeling of worthlessness and lack of energy. Early childhood depression can be diagnosed in children as young as 3 years of age. Early childhood depression causes serious mental as well as physical health problems. As the children are in growing phase of life, early childhood depression have severe consequences later on. Signs and symptoms of early childhood depression include feeling sad, fatigued, lack of interest and concentration impairment. These children are usually less active as compared to normal children. Management of early childhood depression is challenging as no effective pharmacological data is available. However dyadic approaches are being used to treat such cases of depression.