Therapy for Children with Depression

Newport Beach, California


Assessment & Counseling for Children with Depressed Mood in Newport Beach, California

What Is Childhood Depression?

Pediatric (childhood) depression is a mental health issue that affects the social, psychological, emotional and physical wellbeing of children. The symptoms of childhood depression can look very different than adult depression. Because of this childhood depression is often mistaken for anger, unwillingness to cooperate or anxiety.

Is my child depressed? Here are a few common signs of depression in kids:

  • Irritability, sadness or tearfulness

  • Changes in sleep and/or appetite

  • Boredom and spending more time alone

  • Low energy, trouble focusing and getting work done

  • Drop in academic performance

  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Childhood depression can be differentiated from normal sadness or anger based on the duration and severity of the symptoms. In order to confirm a diagnosis of childhood depression, at least five symptoms must be consistently present for at least two weeks. And, the presence of the symptoms must indicate a change compared to their “baseline,” or typical emotional status. Depression is a very serious health issue, one that can dramatically impair a child’s ability to perform in school, engage with their family, and be physically healthy (Rofey et al, 2009).

If you have noticed your child begin to show symptoms of depression, or if your child has struggled with depressive symptoms in the past, do not wait. Out team at OC Psychology Center for Assessment and Psychotherapy are here to help. We provide evidence-based psychological testing and treatment options for children and their families in order to accurately identify mental health issues, set meaningful goals, and find solutions for improvements in health and wellbeing.

How does depression in children develop?

Depression in childhood can be caused by numerous factors, which is why the treatment of depression often involves identifying the cause of the symptoms. Although we do not always know the cause of depression in children, most depressive symptoms fall within a cycle of what we at OC Psychology Center refer to as the Depression Spiral:


The Depression Spiral is a process that both causes and worsens depressive symptoms over time. Often, the spiral begins with some sort of major stressor. Some examples of major stressors for children might include moving to a new city, loss of a loved one, bullying, or difficulty with classes. The stressor induces an emotional response, such as feelings of hurt, sadness, fear, worry, or anger. The human brain is hard-wired to learn from emotional experiences in ways that keep us alive and safe, which means that a stress-induced emotional response can release neurohormones that numb pain and increase awareness to keep our body prepared to address the stress. The release of these neurohormones can also induce physiological changes that, over time, can become chronic depressive symptoms such as sluggishness, persistent sadness or feeling down, and thoughts of suicide. These new symptoms affect changes in behavior, resulting in isolating oneself, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and difficulty in school. These changes often lead to more stressors, particularly when we become more isolated from others.

Fortunately, the Depression Spiral can be stopped. Clinical psychologists and psychotherapists are trained to help children overcome symptoms of depression by addressing the cycle of stress and emotional discord through empathy, practical behavioral solutions, and collaboration with the family. Our team of mental health professionals is determined to help you and your child find answers.

If your child struggles with sadness, thoughts of death or suicide, loss of interest, or other depressive symptoms, let us help. Contact OC Psychology Center for Assessment and Therapy today to schedule your first appointment. Our mission is to help children and their families find answers and solutions through assessment (testing and diagnosis) and psychotherapy (treatment) services. To read more about our assessment services, check out our other pages on psychological testing and diagnosis. To learn more about what treatment for childhood depression looks like here in our clinic, read on!

What does treatment look like for children with depression?

The team at OC Psychology is here for you. Our process for treating depression is designed with families in mind, and we prioritize your child’s progress and safety. The first step in treating any of our pediatric clients involves an evidence-based process for diagnosing their condition. Additionally, if symptoms of self-harm or suicidality are present we will complete a safety plan together to help keep your child healthy during the treatment process.

The first line of treatment for childhood depression is psychotherapy (Stark et al, 2006). To read more about what psychotherapy looks like with children, check out our page on Therapy for Children! Depression is very treatable, particularly for children who have strong family support for their recovery.

We help children overcome depression by promoting:

  • Increased engagement pleasurable activities

  • Learning to recognize negative self-talk and increase positive self-talk

  • Learn strategies to boost motivation and develop a growth mindset

  • Practicing being present and mindful of thoughts and emotions

  • Engage socially and make new friends

  • Increase positive emotions and recognize personal strengths

  • Problem solve more effectively


Is Your Child Suffering From Depressed Mood & Irritability? We Can Help.

We teach cognitive-behavioral strategies to help children overcome depressed mood. Families learn how to help children be active, catch and counter negative thinking and manage overwhelming emotions.


About our team

Psychologists & Counselors Specializing In The Unique Challenges Of Childhood & Adolescence.


Want to learn more about childhood depression & other mental health topics? Check out our blog!

Learn more about child therapy, teen therapy and young adult therapy for treatment of ADHD, depression, anxiety and learning problems, and how our counseling services and psychological testing can help.