Common Childhood Mental Disorder

It’s natural for our children to experience the ups and downs of growing up. However, if you’re noticing significant mood changes in your child, it could be more than a typical childhood bump in the road. Children who are consistently sad, mopey or hopeless could be experiencing pediatric depression.

At Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, our team of compassionate experts are here to help. We will work with your child to determine the source of their feelings – and create a customized plan to help them feel more like themselves again.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Symptoms of clinical depression in children and teens can include:

  • Agitation (nervous and tense)
  • Eating problems (poor appetite or eating too much)
  • Irritable
  • Issues with self-image/self-esteem
  • Low energy levels
  • No interest in usual activities
  • Pessimistic outlook – convinced the worst will happen
  • Sleep issues (too much or not enough)
  • Inability to pay attention
  • Worsening of school performance and poor attendance

If you suspect your child is experiencing depression, make an appointment with their physician. Your child’s physician will review their health history and perform a thorough evaluation of your child’s mental health. In general, depression symptoms must be present consistently for at least two weeks at school and home for a confirmed diagnosis.

With treatment and counseling, children and teens can recover from their depression and engage in regular daily activities. 

Why Choose Penn State Health Children’s Hospital for Care

Compassionate Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help children and teens change their thoughts and behaviors that add to depression. This type of supportive therapy teaches our patients how to cope with stressful events. Our team also works with parents and caregivers to show you how to best support your child or teen.

Comprehensive Medicine Management

At Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, we are committed to helping your child combat their depression symptoms. Use of medications can be the effective way to treat depression. Prior to starting antidepressants, your child should have a thorough evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or a pediatrician with the experiences in treatment of children with depression. Several depression medications are approved for children and teens. Together, we’ll find the right medication to help your child feel more like themselves.

Partnerships to Facilitate Specialized Care

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital partners with the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (PPI) to offer specialized Child and Adolescent Outpatient Services for our patients with depression. These services include counseling and medication treatments for children and teens. All programs and services are housed at the PPI campus in Harrisburg. 

Commitment to Research

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital frequently participates in clinical trials for mental health issues like depression. For more information on clinical trials at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, please visit StudyFinder.

Support Groups

Support groups provide children and their families an opportunity to connect with others in similar situations. Learn more about the support groups offered at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

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