Depression Symptoms & Effects

Learn how to recognize the signs, symptoms, and effects of depression. Resource Treatment Center provides comprehensive mental health and psychiatric treatment for youth who are suffering from depression.

Understanding Depression

Learn about depression

Distinguished by ongoing feelings of sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness, depression is a mental disorder than can affect people of all ages. For children or adolescents, this mental health condition can create a number of obstacles due to impaired functioning. School performance, self-esteem, quality of relationships with others, and healthy development are all at risk when depression is a factor in a child or adolescent’s life. Self-harming behaviors are common among young people with this disorder as children and adolescents often do not have the necessary coping skills to deal with life’s stressors. Without effective treatment, the symptoms of depression can carry over and worsen when the child or adolescent reaches adulthood. Fortunately, treatment that can help children and adolescents overcome the debilitating symptoms of depression is available. By receiving such treatment, young people afflicted with this illness can go on to lead healthy, productive, and happy lives.


Depression statistics

Depression is said to affect 1 in 10 people in the United States, making it one of the most common mental disorders in existence. Studies have found that an estimated 1 in 33 children experience symptoms associated with depression. Furthermore, 1 in every 8 adolescents meet criteria for a depression diagnosis. Despite these numbers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that, on average, only half of those presenting with signs of depression seek treatment to alleviate symptoms.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for depression

To understand why depression symptoms develop, one must recognize that a number of contributors influence this disorder’s onset. Experts agree that one’s genetics, physiological makeup, and environment can impact whether or not a person develops depression. Listed are elaborations on these contributing factors:

Genetic: Children and adolescents with a family history of depression are two times more likely to display signs and symptoms associated with depression at some point in their lifetime. Because of this finding, researchers have deduced that depression is a heritable mental disorder.

Physical: A person’s brain chemistry is known to contribute to the onset of depression symptoms. When certain chemicals within the brain are imbalanced, namely the neurotransmitters responsible for regulating a person’s mood, there is a greater likelihood that an individual will display signs of depression. For those with a genetic predisposition to this disorder, there is an even higher chance of this occurring.

Environmental: Children and adolescents who reside in or are exposed to environments that are ripe with stress are at risk of developing depression. Especially settings in which trauma is likely to occur, or where violence is prevalent, the chances for developing depression increase exponentially. Moreover, certain experiences can lead to the onset of depression symptoms. Being the victim of abuse, neglect, or of a crime, or experiencing an abrupt life change can cause depression to manifest.

Risk Factors:

  • Being female
  • Family history of depression or other mental health conditions
  • Personal history of other mental illnesses
  • Family or personal history of substance use or abuse
  • Exposure to chronic stress
  • Experiencing fluctuations in hormone levels
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Experiencing abrupt life changes
  • Having low-self esteem
  • Being a victim of abuse / neglect / trauma / crime / bullying

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of depression

The signs and symptoms of depression in children and adolescents are similar to those found in adults. However, as is true for adults, the indicators that suggest a person is suffering from depression can vary based on the individual. When trying to identify if your child or adolescent is experiencing symptoms congruent with depression, it is important to note any of the following symptoms present, as well as the duration of their existence:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Declined participation in things or activities that were once enjoyed
  • Angry or emotional outbursts
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Decreased energy
  • Crying
  • Poor academic performance
  • Missing school or chronic lateness to class
  • Self-harming behaviors

Physical symptoms:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Body aches or pain
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Stomachaches
  • Problems digesting food
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Injuries as a result of self-harm

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Flawed decision-making
  • Delayed thinking
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory impairment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Increased irritability
  • Guilty feelings
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Elevated levels of anxiety
  • Anger
  • Low self-esteem
  • Having a negative disposition
  • Helpless feelings
  • Hopeless feelings
  • Suicidal ideation


Effects of depression

Untreated depression can lead to a number of emotional, physical, functional, and interpersonal consequences if treatment is not implemented. While sadness is a normal human emotion, depression differs such that its symptoms can be crippling for a person on a day to day basis. With regards to children and adolescents, when left unaddressed, depression can worsen, hindering healthy development and carrying adverse effects into adulthood. The listed effects are known to occur if treatment is not sought to reduce the symptoms associated with depression:

  • Impaired academic functioning
  • Truancy or missing days of school
  • Academic failure
  • Disciplinary action or expulsion from school
  • Increased conflict with peers, caregivers, and others in the child or adolescent’s life
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Insomnia
  • Drastic weight gain or loss
  • Somatic symptoms of pain
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Self-injury
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide attempts
  • Development of another mental health condition

Co-Occurring Disorders

Depression and co-occurring disorders

A child or adolescent’s depressive symptoms can occur in response to another mental health condition or trigger the onset of symptoms synonymous with another mental disorder. Because of these two notions, it is common that a child or adolescent with depression meets criteria for another mental illness. The following mental health conditions are known to occur in conjunction with a depression diagnosis in children and adolescents:

  • Substance use disorders
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Borderline personality disorder

I always felt so misunderstood, but at Resource it was like someone finally took the time to get to know me. That made a huge difference. This place helped me so much.