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; nimh.nih.gov; dbsalliance.org; Depression: Symptoms and Diagnosis)