Can cure depression in children


What is Depression?

Depression and anxiety disorders in childhood and adolescence are usually not a temporary disorder that children “outgrow”. You need early treatment in view of the serious consequences. After all, suicide is the second most common cause of death in children and adolescents after accidents, and the vast majority is related to depression.

Around 8% of all adolescents suffer from anxiety disorders and around 5% from depression that requires treatment. However, very few are actually in therapy. Parents often underestimate the severity of their child's mental disorder.

On average, adolescents begin to develop depression at the age of 15, and earlier in girls. Girls get sick more often than boys. A depressive phase usually lasts 6-9 months, but often longer than a year. Many young people affected have difficulties in school and in dealing with their peers. It is not uncommon for them to suffer from low self-esteem, withdrawnness or pessimism as adults.


Little is known about the specific causes of depression that already occurs in childhood or adolescence. Children from families in which adult relatives have already developed depression are particularly at risk. A genetic predisposition is suspected in the disease. If the children also experience particular stress such as the loss of a parent, serious illness, a divorce of the parents, learning difficulties or trauma such as sexual abuse or physical abuse, the risk of an actual illness increases considerably.

Symptoms & clinical picture

Each of us, including a child, of course, feels melancholy for a while. Depression differs from melancholy in the duration, frequency, and intensity of the symptoms.

Depression often manifests itself differently in children than in adults. Instead of social withdrawal, aggressive outbursts often occur. Lack of concentration, learning difficulties and the resulting school failure can be indications of depression or an expression of attention deficit disorder (ADD).

Younger children show different symptoms than older children

  • In smaller children up to about six years of age, the symptoms often focus on increased anxiety, physical complaints, violent outbursts of temper and behavior problems - e.g. aggression, rebellious behavior.
  • In older children, symptoms such as a lack of self-confidence, feelings of guilt and feelings of hopelessness ("nothing matters") are more pronounced.
  • Adolescents often suffer more from sleep and appetite disorders, self-harm and suicidal ideation.

The following symptoms are common in depressed people of all ages. For a suspicion of depression, several of these symptoms should be observed almost daily for weeks.

  • persistent sadness
  • Feelings of guilt, low self-confidence, feeling of worthlessness
  • low tolerance for frustration, crying or getting angry easily
  • persistent lack of interest, joylessness, lack of energy
  • social retreat, no desire to be with friends
  • Insomnia or sleep too much
  • increased or decreased appetite
  • constant fatigue
  • Difficulty dealing constructively with problems, instead withdrawing
  • Substance abuse, thoughts of suicide
  • Poor concentration and decision-making

Often children and young people can no longer get out of a vicious circle of fears and feelings of not being understood without outside help. If you already dare to talk about fears or feelings of self-worth or hopelessness, this should definitely be taken seriously by teachers, parents and colleagues.


When anxiety disorders or depression have been diagnosed as such, the question of the best treatment arises. If the person concerned is motivated or shows self-discipline, physical exercise (jogging, cycling, walking, swimming, etc.) - preferably together with others - has proven to be very beneficial. In principle, there are various options for further therapy:

  • Psychotherapy - depending on age, by therapists who specialize in the treatment of children and adolescents; Your pediatrician can give you contact details
  • Treatment with herbal remedies, e.g. St. John's wort. Scientific studies have shown that St. John's wort has a convincing effect. High-dose St. John's wort extract is widely used for milder forms of depression. In some cases, light therapy is also used. Meetings in front of powerful lighting devices are intended to "brighten up" moods.
  • However, in severe depression and when patients do not respond to treatment, drug alternatives must be kept on hand.
  • Treatment with modern antidepressants, similar to that used in adults, but in a different dose.

The administration of antidepressants is controversial. Nevertheless, it is considered that these drugs help at least half of all depressed adolescents. There are also some of these antidepressants that are approved for children aged 6 and over. The fear of drugs is partly due to the equality of all psychotropic drugs, which in reality differ greatly from one another in terms of side effects and potential for dependency. Occasionally one also hears reports of frivolous prescribing of psychotropic drugs to immobilize children. However, if you have a disease such as anxiety or depression, it may be recommended to take a medication for a certain period of time.

Usually one proceeds as follows: If psychotherapy is accepted by the child and parents and the symptoms improve, drug treatment is refrained from. If this is not the case or there is a risk of suicide, an appropriate medication is prescribed. Your pediatrician or psychotherapist will advise you on the best way to go.

Addresses & links

Federal association of relatives of the mentally ill
Thomas-Mann-Strasse 49a
53111 Bonn
Tel .: 0228/632646
Fax: 0228/658063

Children's and youth telephone e. V.
(German Child Protection Association)
Telephone number: 0800 111 0 333
- nationwide and free of charge from landlines and mobile phones
- Mondays to Fridays between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Mental Health Forum
Untere Zahlbacher Str. 8
55131 Mainz
Tel .: 06131/280751
Fax: 06131/280753

Association of Analytical Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists V. (VAKJP)
Tullastrasse 16
68161 Mannheim
Tel .: 0621/4186444
Fax: 0621/413169

National contact and information point for the suggestion and support of self-help groups (NARKOS)
Albrecht-Achilles-Str. 65
10709 Berlin
Tel .: 030/8914019
Fax: 030/8934014
Here you can find the addresses of self-help groups in your area.

Author: äin-red

last change: 03/17/2014