Is It Unheard Of For Children to Have Depression?

Published: August 31, 2015
Dear TeenHealthFX,

I think I may have depression. I've read your other articles and Q&A about depression and all the signs match. Literally every sign. But I am young (13 years old) and its pretty unheard of for children to have depression right? Anyways thats not my question my question is how to tell my mom because im 99.9% sure she won't believe me because she has depression and when i mentioned the topic before she got very defensive and started saying I don't know what depression is things around me are warping my mind to believe I am sad. But I honestly think something is wrong with me i'm always sad and I quit a lot of extra curricular activities because I just didn't feel like doing anything but sleep. PLEASE HELP!!!!

Dear Is It Unheard Of For Children to Have Depression?,

There is no question that children and adolescents can suffer from depression. About 5 percent of children and adolescents in the general population suffer from depression at any given point in time. Consider the following: 

  • 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 - 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder - that is around three children in every class
  • Between 1 in every 12 and 1 in 15 children and young people deliberately self-harm.
  • There has been a big increase in the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of self-harm. Over the last ten years this figure has increased by 68%.
  • More than half of all adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood. Less than half were treated appropriately at the time.
  • Nearly 80,000children and young people suffer from severe depression.
  • Over 8,000 children aged under 10 years old suffer from severe depression.

                                                                                             Association for Young People's Health (2013) 

In addition, children whose parents have depression are at a greater risk of being depressed. For a child of a depressed parent, the risk of depression is much higher than average. From studies with identical and fraternal twins as well as other siblings reared together and apart, it is estimated that 50% or more of the risk of childhood depression is inherited

TeenHealthFX cannot tell you if you are clinically depressed or not. What we can tell you is that, you have made a strong case, that you should be evaluated for depression. Now that you know it is possible and that you and are greater risk of depression because of the genetic component. 

In the past mom seems to have reacted to somewhat defensively to you saying you were depressed. Her scolding could be motivated by her belief that, you were minimizing the effect of her depression. Most likely she might be under the assumption that young people do not get depressed because they do not have the stressors of adulthood. It is important for your mom to realize that you have been struggling with the symptoms of depression and it needs to be addressed. She is in the unique position to understand what you are going through because of her own struggles and it will also give you insight into how depression has effected her. 

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the AccessCenter from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area.



Signed: TeenHealthFX