Getting a Grip on Your School Aged Child’s Moods: Is it Depression?

Is your child moody? Are you worried that you youngster may be showing depression symptoms? It is not uncommon for school-aged children to suffer from depression. What signs should tip you off that there is more going on than just a bad mood?

  • Look for stressors. The experts at the University of Houston point out that “social skills deficits” as well as problems related to new educational requirements can become triggers for depression in children, who are predisposed to suffer from the condition. Be particularly mindful to watch for mood alterations in the wake of a school change, class promotion or change in teachers.
  • Recognize the symptoms. Back-talk is not indicative of depression in your child. Then again, if it is accompanied by a consistent sadness and a sudden loss of interest in hobbies and activities the school-aged child used to enjoy, there is reason to worry. Look past mouthy outburst and note if it might be rooted in a serious change of behavior and mood.
  • Ask for clarification from the child. When was the last time that you had a good sit-down talk with your middle-schooler? What about your high school student? Build a pattern of healthy communication with your elementary school student today, so that you have an established pattern of interaction by the time adolescence comes around.
  • Be open to treatment. If you realize that you might be dealing with something other than frustration over a bad grade, an indifferent teacher or a friendship that is going south, get help from a school counselor, pediatrician or mental health professional who specializes in dealing with potentially depressed children. Do not wait, hoping that the problems will go away; if it is truly depression, it only gets worse.

Remember that there is more to your school-aged child’s mood than might meet the eye. Avoid quick brush-offs at all costs; do not compartmentalize your child’s problems by telling her that there are folks who are worse off. Do not tell her that she is ‘having it good’ — as compared to other youngsters. Your child lives in the here and now, and needs help in her current reality. Err on the side of caution and make sure that your youngster gets the mental help she needs. After all, if you won’t advocate for her, who will?



University of Houston; “Depression in Adolescents