Though the term "depression" can describe a normal human emotion, it also can refer to a psychiatric disorder. Depressive illness in children and adolescents includes a cluster of symptoms which have been present for at least two weeks.
In addition to feelings of sadness and/or irritability, a depressive illness includes several of the following:
- Change of appetite with either significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain
- Change in sleeping patterns (such as trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much)
- Loss of interest in activities formerly enjoyed
- Loss of energy, fatigue, feeling slowed down for no reason, "burned out"
- Feelings of guilt and self blame for things that are not one's fault
- Inability to concentrate and indecisiveness
- Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- Recurring thought of death and suicide, wishing to die, or attempting suicide