Depression: Did You Know?

July, 2008

  • Depression is one of the three most commonly diagnosed mood disorders. The other two are:
    • Dysthymia, a low-grade, chronic depression
    • Bipolar Disorder (also referred to as manic depression), extreme mood swings punctuated by periods of generally even-keeled behavior
  • Depression is more than the "blues" that everyone experiences – feelings of sadness that eventually pass. It’s an illness, not a character flaw or a weakness. People who suffer from depression cannot shake it off. They need help to overcome it.
  • There is no single known cause of depression. It most likely results from a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors. (National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH))
  • The incidence of childhood depression has been growing steadily, and the age at which it first appears in children continues to drop.
  • As many as 10 percent of children suffer from depression before age 12. (Niehart, 2001)
  • Before puberty, boys and girls are equally likely to develop depression; but by age 15, girls are far more likely than boys to do so. (NIMH)
  • Some experts are convinced that gifted children are more likely to suffer from depression, while others believe the evidence does not support that claim.
  • Research has consistently shown a link between children with learning disabilities and depression.
  • Effective treatments for depression include counseling, education, and antidepressant medication.
  • According to the NIMH, younger children with depression may do the following:
    • Pretend to be sick
    • Refuse to go to school
    • Cling to a parent
    • Worry that a parent may die.
  • Older children with depression may:
    • Sulk
    • Get into trouble at school
    • Be negative and irritable
    • Feel misunderstood.
  • The symptoms of depression in children are easy to mistake for the normal mood swings that occur as children move through developmental stages.
  • Parents who suspect that their child is depressed can do the following:
    • Reduce or eliminate their child’s consumption of sugar and caffeine, which destabilize moods.
    • Increase the child’s level of exercise, especially if he or she has not been recently active.
    • Encourage the child to maintain or build social relationships with true peers.
      (Niehart, 2001)
  • Many gifted and 2e children have traits that appear to be related to childhood and adolescent depression as well as suicide:
    • Perfectionism
    • Sensitivity
    • Introversion
    • Feelings of loneliness and alienation
      (Webb & others, 2007, p. 153)


National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. Available from 

Niehart, M. (2001). Depression and gifted children. Duke Gifted Letter, Volume 1/Issue 2/Winter. (Available from

Webb, J., Gore, J., Amend, E. &  DeVries, A. (2007). A parent’s guide to gifted children. Scottsdale: Great Potential Press, Inc.   

More Information about Depression

For more on anxiety and mood disorders, see these articles from the July, 2008, issue of 2e:Twice-Exceptional Newsletter:  

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