We believe parents must be armed with fact-based and practical mental health information in order to recognize depression in their child and find appropriate help.

up to 20%

of teens will suffer from at least one depressive episode before they reach adulthood.

About Childhood and Adolescent Depression


You have probably reached this page because you think your child or teen might have depression and you want to know more about it. Most parents know very little about childhood or adolescent depression or what to do about it. While we have come a long way in our society these past few years, there is still a long way to go to get depression out of the dark. People just don’t talk about it. But, if you think your child has depression, you SHOULD talk about it. You should check it out – because depression, clinical depression, should be properly diagnosed and should be treated by a mental health care professional.

What is depression? Depression is a sustained (over two weeks):

Depressed mood
Feeling of sadness or irritability
Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities
Difficulty with concentration, thinking or making decisions
Sense of worthlessness or guilt
Excessive fatigue
Slowed speech or movement
Significant change in weight
Physical symptoms like headache, stomachache or other aches and pains
Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Depression in teens is common. Studies tell us that somewhere between 15 and 20% of our children will suffer from at least one depressive episode before they become adults. Most children who suffer go undiagnosed and untreated. We don’t know the signs of depression, we may think it’s just normal adolescent behavior, or we don’t know where to turn for help. There are so many barriers to treatment. But there don’t have to be.

If you think your child has depression, please check it out. Take him to your family doctor to rule out any physical illness, and if your doctor agrees with you that he may have depression, have a mental health professional give you a formal diagnosis and treatment plan. Learn more about treatment options for teen depression.

We at Erika’s Lighthouse are dedicated to helping children, teens and their parents understand youth depression so that all who suffer from it get the help they need. You can read more about depression, what to do if you think your child is suffering from it, and the kinds of help available in our Parent Handbook on Childhood and Teen Depression. It’s available as a free download.  

Why Adolescent Depression Education?

Promotes early identification – When parents understand what teen depression looks like, we can be alert to changes in our teen’s behavior that may indicate that a visit to a health professional is necessary.

Encourages early intervention – When everyone has the same mental health “language” and understands that like other medical conditions, depression requires professional support, help-seeking behavior takes place. Depression that occurs before the age of age 18 has a 66% chance of returning. Early treatment can help to avoid permanent changes in the brain.

Protects lives – When stigma is reduced and early identification and intervention occurs, we manage depression and protect precious lives.

With your help, we educate school communities about teen depression, eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness and empower teens to take charge of their mental health.