Over the course of their development, children and adolescents will display signs of sadness or moodiness. This can come from a fight with a friend, difficulty in school, or a move to a new neighborhood or city. This is especially true with developing teens who are going through hormonal changes.

Depression, as opposed to “normal” sadness or moodiness, is a serious mood disorder that can take the joy from a child's life. Depression is a serious condition that affects both children—even young children-- and adolescents, with a higher percentage occurring in teens. What differentiates typical sadness or moodiness from a major depression is the duration—lasting weeks or months—and the intensity--helplessness or hopelessness or feelings of worthlessness, as opposed to sadness or moodiness.

Despite heightened awareness, many children still don’t get the help they need. At times this can due to the difficulty of differentiating between depression and normal moodiness. In addition, depression in children may present differently than depression in adults.

Children and teens with depression may appear bored, irritable or sad most of the time. They may lose pleasure in activities or things they used to enjoy. They may lose or gain weight, or sleep too much or too little. They may feel hopeless, guilty or worthless. They may have trouble concentrating, thinking, or making decisions. And they may think about death or suicide.

Very young children may lack energy and become withdrawn. They may show little emotion, and have trouble sleeping.

Grade-school children may have a lot of headaches or stomachaches. They may lose interest in friends and activities that they liked in the past. Some children with severe depression may see or hear things that aren't there (hallucinate) or have false beliefs (delusions).

Teens may sleep a lot or move or speak more slowly than usual. Teens with severe depression may hallucinate or have delusions.