Depression is a strong mood involving sadness, discouragement, despair, or hopelessness that lasts for weeks, months, or even longer.
Depression isn't just bad moods and occasional melancholy. It's not just feeling down or sad, either. These feelings are normal in kids, especially during the teen years. Even when major disappointments and setbacks make people feel sad and angry, the negative feelings usually lessen with time.
But when a depressive state, or mood, lingers for a long time — weeks, months, or even longer — and limits a person's ability to function normally, it can be diagnosed as depression.
Types of depression include: major depression, dysthymia, adjustment disorder with depressed mood, seasonal affective disorder, and bipolar disorder or manic depression. All of these can affect kids and teenagers.
Some kids develop symptoms of depression after an upsetting event — anything from a hurricane to a death in the family. Other times, depression can come about gradually. Major depression is a serious condition that may last months or even years. People with depression may lack interest in activities or withdraw from friends or family.
Psychotherapy (counseling to help people with their emotions and behavior) with a psychologist or other mental health provider is a recommended treatment for kids and teens with depression. Antidepressant medication has been approved for kids age 8 and older. A combination of psychotherapy and medication is often the best treatment for depression in teens. Psychotherapies that work well in treating depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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