Mood Disorders in Children

Major depressive disorder (MDD) and dysthymic disorder are two mood disorders that may occur at any time during childhood or adolescence, and are often preceded by stressful situations involving family, friends or school. Children with depression may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Persistent sad or irritable mood
  • Lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy including sports, hobbies
  • Feeling or worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • Loss of energy
  • Thoughts about death or dying, or suicidal thoughts and plans
  • Change in sleep
  • Change in appetite
  • Distraction and difficulty concentrating
  • Purposeless motions (i.e. pacing, wringing hands) or moving much too slowly (i.e. taking a long time to stand up or walk across the room)

Over one in five Americans experiences some form of depression at some point in their lifetime, and over one in twenty Americans experience a depressive episode every year. Depression is one of the most serious and disabling mental health conditions, but regrettably many individuals do not seek help. This is especially true for children and adolescents, who until recently, were not recognized as being able to suffer with a mood disorder. Parents are often told "this is a phase" or "it's just typical of being a teenager" when, in fact, their child may benefit from intervention to prevent escalation of the mood condition.

If these symptoms seem relevant to you or your child, we can help. Feel free to contact us by calling our main desk at (212) 246-5740.

The Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CUCARD) provides evidence-based treatments for all of the anxiety disorders that can afflict children, including: