Forbes Health named Synergy eTherapy BEST OF 2023 FOR ONLINE CBT THERAPY and one of the BEST ONLINE THERAPY SERVICES OF 2023 by Forbes Health!

Depression Symptoms in Children

Welcome to our Mood-E Blog


Written by, Barbara Wormington

Barbara is currently working under Kaycee Bragg to obtain her professional licensure in the state of Minnesota.

Barbara Wormington MEd, MS, BS is a counseling intern under supervision of Kayce Bragg. She was a public school educator for fifteen years in Missouri and currently resides in Minnesota. She is a divorced mom of a twelve year old queer kiddo who through lots of love and support is thriving. Barbara loves seeing clients of all ages, but especially kids between the ages of 9-18. In her free time she loves being outside with her rescue pup, Norah.

Depression Symptoms in Children

kids 1093758 1920

What is the difference between my child being “sad” and depressed?

As parents, we have been through child tantrums, grocery store meltdowns, and the world coming to an end due to the wrong ice cream flavor, but no one really prepares us for when some of those feelings turn into much more. And where is that line drawn? The difference between everyday sadness and depressive symptoms can be very blurry. So what exactly does depression in young folks look like?

According to the Centers for Disease Control 2023, Depression in school aged children can look like any of the following:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable a lot of the time
  • Not wanting to do or enjoy doing fun things
  • Showing changes in eating patterns – eating a lot more or a lot less than usual
  • Showing changes in sleep patterns – sleeping a lot more or a lot less than normal
  • Showing changes in energy – being tired and sluggish or tense and restless a lot of the time
  • Having a hard time paying attention
  • Feeling worthless, useless, or guilty
  • Showing self-injury and self-destructive behavior

So what does this mean as parents and caregivers?


It is estimated that approximately 3.2 percent of adolescents are diagnosed with depression, however, that number might seem low due to the lack of treatment or medical interventions given to many adolescents and it is important to note that LGBTQIA+ youth experience depression on a much more significant level. Specifically, last year alone, 45 percent seriously considered suicide. For more resources on parenting LGBTQIA+ youth, consider another blog post for more resources.

Depression is prevalent and even small changes to children’s lives can spark depressive behaviors for many kids. When your child has always loved playing basketball with neighborhood friends or enjoyed painting in their free time, and now or slowly has zero interest in these things, that could be a marker for childhood depression. Knowing your child is your best tool. Understanding their routine, what sparks joy for them and how that ebbs and flows will be your greatest asset. 

But what if preventative things have not worked and these symptoms keep popping up within your child or seem to be getting worse? How can we support healthy coping skills to deal with their feelings? 

First and foremost, we have to model. We have to model what it looks like to cope everyday in a healthy way. Maybe you are stressed at work, or the laundry is piling up. It is important to show your kiddos how YOU deal with stress and anxiety that could easily lead to depression or depressive thoughts and that those feelings can be normal.  Make sure to talk out loud and answer questions they might have. Model and say things like, “I’m taking a walk or going outside for five minutes to reset and try to feel better because I’m stressed about a deadline at work.” or “The laundry and house is making me anxious right now, so I’m going to make a list while taking a bath to relax while making a list of the things I want to accomplish this weekend.” Showing your kids that they are not alone in experiencing sad or depressive thoughts and that we all cope in different ways is crucial. 

Modeling a healthy mind and body is also important. Showing your child how to care for yourself and what self care looks like is extremely important. Making sure to not only model these important healthy habits but also making space and helping your child experience them can be helpful. Some of the healthy habits from the American Academy of Pediatrics that make a difference in mental health are listed below.

 Staying hydrated– Older children need at least 7-8 cups of water per day.

  1. Staying rested- It is recommended that children ages 10-18 get at least 9-10 hours of sleep per night. 
  2. Vitamins and minerals. Most children are not getting the right amount of nutrition per day. Making sure they have supplements if needed and are eating healthy is extremely important. 
  3. Keep moving- It is recommended that children and teens get at least sixty minutes of exercise and movement per day. 
  4. Being outdoors in the sunshine is also proven to increase positive mental health. Go on walks with your kids or help them choose exercise outdoors when possible. 
  5. Consider social media limits. Social media can have a detrimental effect on children and teen’s mental health. 

Again, modeling these behaviors is extremely important. Setting bedtimes, social media limits, and healthy eating habits are all ways to encourage positive self care and mental health for your child. 

Seeking professional help can also be an important step in supporting your child. Connecting with your pediatrician, a mental health professional, or talking with support systems in their school (school counselors, social workers, your child’s teacher, etc.) are all people who are trained to help as well. Sometimes medication recommendations can be helpful and can make a world of difference. Giving your child space and options to speak to a counselor or therapist is key.

Consider making space for people who have been down this road. A lot of parents and kids are experiencing depression. Reach out to other parents or family members for support. Encourage your child to express themselves and connect with others who might also be going through something similar. Whatever that connection might be, it’s important for all parties to not feel alone or isolated and connecting with others is a wonderful way to stay on top of you and your child’s mental health.

Above all, remember that parenting is hard. You’re doing a great job. Being considerate of your child’s needs and developing coping skills for them that are healthy while also taking care of yourself is a huge job in itself. Seeking out resources and self care for parents is also important. Make sure you are taking care of yourself as well. Modeling self care and self awareness is also a great parenting tool.

Resources & therapy for kids

A Guide to Child Therapy | Thriveworks

Therapy for Kids: 10 Best Online Kids Therapy Programs (

Healthy Children: American Academy of Pediatrics


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, March 8). Anxiety and depression in children. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

asdrubal luna 485688 unsplash scaled

If you, or know of someone who could use some online counseling to feel heard and learn ways to cope, please connect with one of our therapists today for a free consultation.


Start today with your FREE no
commitment consultation!

Follow Us!


As an online mental health counseling practice, our mission is to offer a variety of online therapy services to help you focus on your wellbeing. We take the stress out of getting the treatment you deserve. Synergy eTherapists provide flexible, convenient, and easy to use mental health services.

We offer online therapy in several states including MinnesotaIowa, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kansas, California, Florida, Colorado, and many other states. We add new states to this list regularly.

Our online therapists can treat anxiety, trauma, depression, substance abuse, maternal mental health concerns, grief and loss, and more.

Our therapists help teens, college students, adults, couples, and people with health conditions and chronic pain during online therapy. Additionally, we can offer psychiatric medication management in certain states.

Learn more FAQs about our online therapy group practice as well as the cost of online therapy

Start Today With A Free Consultation

Scroll to Top

Bringing all things positive to you!

Join our monthly eNewsletter and receive our

FREE guide on how to cope with ANXIETY!

We won’t sell or give away your email to anyone