For Parents

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Conditions With Symptoms Similar to Depression in Children and Teens

Overview

Some other conditions can cause symptoms that look like depression. Before your child or teen can be diagnosed with depression, a doctor may need to rule out these other conditions. They include:

  • Bipolar disorder. This condition has symptoms that cycle from depression to mania.
  • Other mental conditions. These include anxiety disorders, conduct disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.
  • Dysthymic disorder. This mood disorder may be less severe than depression, but it lasts longer.
  • Substance use disorder.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Medical problems such as a low thyroid level and anemia.

A child may have one or more of these other conditions along with depression.

In some cases, a child who has depression is later diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A first episode of mania can happen on its own. But it can also be triggered by certain medicines, such as antidepressants. It is important to tell your child's doctor about any bipolar disorder in the family and to watch your child closely for signs of manic behavior.

Credits

Current as of: February 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
David A. Brent MD - Child and Adolescent Psychiatry