Being sad occasionally is part of every child’s life. However, children with depression appear persistently sad. Children with depression often complain of being bored and appear to have low energy. They feel worthless, useless or guilty.

School aged children which show the following signs that last longer than 2 weeks would benefit from a health care professional appointment:

  • Says negative things such as “No-one at school likes me”
  • Eats a lot more or a lot less than normal
  • Has a hard time paying attention
  • Showing self-injury and self-destructive behaviour
  • Reports frequent health issues such as headaches or stomach aches
  • No interest for daily activities

Depression can interfere with a child’s academic performance. It can cause difficulty concentrating and a lack of motivation. It can lead to increased absences from school. Many children with depression have problems fitting in at school or getting along with other children. They often isolate themselves from peers and their family which can cause their depression to get even worse


If the depression is severe you should seek an appointment for you and your child with a Counsellor or Psychologist for treatment. Sometimes a child may be referred to a Psychiatrist. Medicating children is always a concern but, in some cases, medication combined with therapy is more beneficial than therapy alone. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential for children with depression. For young children involving parents in the treatment is key. A mental health professional can develop a therapy plan that works best for the child and family.

You can also do the following activities to help your child:

  • Eating healthy and cooking nutritious meals for your child is important and in addition to getting the right treatment, leading a healthy lifestyle can play a major role
  • Help your child learn relaxation strategies such as deep breathing and mindfulness
  • Join your child in doing physical activity such as going for a walk together
  • Encourage your child to talk about their feelings. Be supportive of them so that they will feel comfortable in confiding in you

Questions you can ask your Health Care Team:

  • What signs/behaviours/actions do I look for?
  • What is my child’s treatment options?
  • What side effects can my child expect from taking medication?
  • How can I help my child in their day to day activities?
  • Will the parents be involved in therapy?
  • How soon should we expect improvement?

It is really difficult to see your child feeling sad and upset for a long time. It can affect other family members as well. It is important for you to look after your own health and well-being also and to seek out help from a counsellor or doctor as you need.

Useful Links:

“Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter
and those who matter don’t mind” - Dr. Seuss

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Disclaimer: This publication by Miracle Babies Foundation is intended solely for general education and assistance and it is it is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. It should not be used for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment for any individual condition. This publication has been developed by our Parent Advisory Team (all who are parents of premature and sick babies) and has been reviewed and approved by a Clinical Advisory Team. This publication is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Miracle Babies Foundation recommends that professional medical advice and services be sought out from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal circumstances.To the extent permitted by law, Miracle Babies Foundation excludes and disclaims any liability of any kind (directly or indirectly arising) to any reader of this publication who acts or does not act in reliance wholly or partly on the content of this general publication. If you would like to provide any feedback on the information please email [email protected].