Symptom Tests

[Self-Test] Depression in Children

Every child experiences the blues — about bad grades or not having friends on the playground. Depression is more than just a passing gray cloud. It’s a persistent feeling of sadness that stretches into weeks. Use this self-test to see if your child is showing signs of depression.

Depression is a mood disorder that can allow tendrils of sadness to reach nearly every aspect of daily life – mealtime, bedtime, playtime, school, and family time. It can cause patients, and close loved ones who want to help, a significant amount of hurt and pain. Children with depression may not be able to give these feelings a name, but parents may notice a sudden drop in grades or apathy about the future. Sometimes, depression in children manifests as constant irritability rather than traditional sadness.

The symptoms of depression are commonly mistaken for ADHD, and vice versa, because the markers of both conditions can overlap. Especially in children, the inability to concentrate triggered by depression can look like distractibility from ADHD. Low motivation, or trouble getting started, is another shared symptom. Difficulty sleeping and loss of appetite are common side effects of ADHD medications and signals of depression.

The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that nearly half of kids with ADHD also suffer from conditions like depression, learning disabilities, and anxiety disorders. Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide in adolescents. Any thoughts of suicide should be dealt with as an emergency.

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your child, talk to your child about life at school, and ask about bullying. Take this screener test and bring the results to your pediatrician or mental health professional for evaluation.

Adapted from the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC). This is not a diagnostic tool. If you have concerns about possible depression see a mental health professional. An accurate diagnosis can only be made through clinical evaluation. This self-test is for personal use only. (SOURCES: The Ultimate ADHD Test ebook;;; Depression: Symptoms and Diagnosis)

Simple decisions, like what to wear in the morning, are extremely difficult for your child to make.

When you ask about recess, your child says, “No one wanted to play with me.”

If the movie you want to see is sold out, your child may burst into tears.

His favorite video game may sit untouched for weeks, even after you offer to have friends over to play with.

Your child is scared of monsters under the bed, and very jumpy at the slightest sounds.

Your child doesn’t want to have a birthday party because she says she doesn’t have any friends she would want to invite.

She’s regularly a chatty Kathy at home after school, but can be eerily quiet for days or weeks on end.

The teacher has been in touch because his grades are on a downward spiral.

Even when you go out of your way to cheer him up, your child may still seem down in the dumps.

He doesn’t want to join the soccer team this year because he says, “I was never any good at it anyways. Why bother?”

She loves to ride her bike up and down the block, but when the neighbor stops by for a ride, she says she is too tired.

Your usually agreeable child is now a constant grump.

Usually, he’s racing around the house after dinner asking everyone to come outside and play catch. Lately, he’s been a bump on a log even when you try to get him moving.

One or both of the child’s biological parents has a history of depression.

He’s always been full of confidence, but lately has been saying things like, “All the other kids in class are smarter than me.”

Homework is always a struggle, but sometimes it seems like your child is incapable of even sitting down and getting started.

Even after a bedtime story, your child can’t seem to fall asleep, and wakes up in the middle of the night more often than not.

Sometimes, you make your child’s favorite after-school snack, but she says she isn't hungry, and then only picks at her dinner.

Your child is easily distracted, even when doing things she likes, such as making cookies with Mom.

(Optional) Would you like to receive your depression symptom test results — plus more helpful resources — via email from ADDitude?

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Depression in Children: Next Steps

1. Take This Test Full ADHD Symptoms Test for Children
2. Take This Test General Anxiety Disorder for Children
3. Take This Test Autism Symptom Test for Children
4. Learn How to Help a Child with Both ADHD and Depression
5. Take This Test Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Children 
6. Download “Is It Depression? How to Recognize & Treat It”
7. Read Is Your Child Depressed?
8. Find: Specialists or Clinics Near You