In Children & Adolescence

Early to mid 19th century

Doctors practicing medicine in the early to mid 19th century denied the existence of depression in children and adolescents. Clinical depression was classified exclusively as an adult mental illness. The doctors’ beliefs permitted the rest of society to disregard the possibility that prepubertal children could suffer from depression. However, the developmental psychopathology breakthrough and the introduction of operational definitions of psychiatric disorders, depression in children and adolescents became highly controversial topic

Recent research confirms the earlier that symptoms are presented, the more elongated and severe the course of depression will be. Furthermore, signs of depression often begin to display during middle to late adolescence. Depression is a highly recurrent mental illness with an progressively younger age of onset for the initial prevalence.


"a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest"

A child may be diagnosed with clinical depression if he or she meets the following criteria: first, has experienced an episode of depression, persisting for a minimum of four weeks; also, the child possess at least two of the following symptoms: “anxiety, sleep disturbance, irritability, suicidal thoughts, eating disturbances, school refusal, phobias, alimentary disorders, obsessions, and hypochondrias."

There should be a notable shift in a child’s presence from his or her prior state because day-to-day tasks become more challenging.


Physical/somatic complaints

Complaints of feeling sick, school absence, lack of participation,



Isolation from peers, problems with social skills, defiance

Difficulty concentrating on tasks/activities

Poor work completion

Short-term memory impairments

Forgetting to complete assignments, difficulty concentrating

Difficulties with planning, organizing, and executing tasks

Refusing to complete work, missing deadlines

Facial expressions or body language indicating depression or sadness

Working slowly


Easily hurt feelings, crying, anger

Poor performance and follow-through on tasks

Poor work completion


Distractability, restlessness


Poor work submission, variable academic performance

Separation anxiety from parents or caregiver

Crying, somatic complaints, frequent absences, school refusal

Decreased self-esteem and feelings of self-worth

Self-deprecating comments

Mild irritability

Defiance with authority figures, difficulties interacting with

peers, argumentativeness

Negative perceptions of student's past and present

Pessimistic comments, suicidal thoughts

Peer rejection

Isolation, frequent change in friends

Lack of interest and involvement in previously enjoyed activities

Isolation and withdrawal


Sulking, noncompliance

Impulsive and risky behavior

Theft, sexual activity, alcohol or drug use, truancy

Substance abuse

Acting out of character, sleeping in class

How teachers can help

  • Give frequent feedback on academic, social, and behavioral performance.
  • Teach the student how to set goals and self-monitor.
  • Teach problem-solving skills.
  • Coach the student in ways to organize, plan, and execute tasks demanded daily or weekly in school.
  • Develop modifications and accommodations to respond to the student's fluctuations in mood, ability to concentrate, or side effects of medication. Assign one individual to serve as a primary contact and coordinate interventions.
  • Give the student opportunities to engage in social interactions but closely regulate the environment.
  • Frequently monitor whether the student has suicidal thoughts.
  • Develop a home — school communication system to share information on the student's academic, social, and emotional behavior and any developments concerning medication or side effects.
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