Child and Adolescent Depression

Depression in children is more common than we think

What Is Depression?

Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness.

Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.

There are several forms of depressive disorders.

Major depression,—severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. An episode can occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, a person has several episodes.

Persistent depressive disorder—depressed mood that lasts for at least 2 years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for 2 years.

Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances. They include:

  • Psychotic depression, which occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality (delusions), or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).
  • Postpartum depression, which is much more serious than the “baby blues” that many women experience after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do not get better with light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or persistent depressive disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes—from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression).

With depression currently affecting more than 14 million people, the treatment team at the Ahava & Shalom Family Counseling Center, including psychologists, licensed counselors, family therapists, clinical social workers, and psychiatrists, has developed expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of this debilitating mood disorder. Aside from depression, other mood disorders treated include bipolar disorder, dysthymia, and adjustment disorders. Our psychotherapists and counselors are skilled in a variety of treatment approaches including cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

At the Ahava & Shalom Family Counseling Center, we provide individual, marital and family therapy, and group therapy, depending on your needs. We are mindful of how incapacitating depression can be to all aspects of your life, particularly your relationships. As a result, we team with our patients to improve mood, energy levels, zest for life, motivation, and daily functioning. We will help reduce irritability, appetite and sleep disturbances, and difficulty with concentration and memory. And, of course, we will help restore hope. The success rate for treating depression is high – approximately 80% of people get better with proper and skillful treatment.

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