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Mood Disorders

Even very small children can experience depression but the way they describe their feelings might be different.

Mood problems affect everything about a person, the way they think, the way they feel about themselves and the way they act.  A lot of things can cause children to be sad. Sadness can be caused by grief or worries. These are normal re-actions. It is when sadness, worry or anxiety do not go away or when they interfere with day to day life and the ability to function that you need to be concerned. Mood disorders also can run in families due to chemicals that help regulate mood. In some cases SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are required to balance the chemicals in the brain that affect mood and behaviour. The length of time a person will have a mood disorder is dependent on the type of mood disorder.

The most common mood problem is depression.  In the teen years more girls than boys report symptoms of depression. Please see information under Depression in the What Is? section.

Mood disorders include:

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)– long-lasting and disabling – usually 6 months or longer (see Depression in this section)
  • Dysthymia – chronic low level depression lasting for at least two years (see Depression in this section)
  • Bipolar Disorder – a life-long disorder(see Bipolar Disorder in this section)
  • Substance Induced Mood Disorders

It’s important to get help when your child or teen:

  • Feels sad all the time and cries easily
  • Have problems eating or sleeping and are irritable
  • Lose interest in activities they enjoyed before


Treatment of a mood disorder can consist of behavioural and/or drug therapy. Cognitive behaviour therapy is often the first step. This helps change the way of thinking and acting that contributes to the mood.




Links or Useful Resources for MOOD DISORDERS:
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) -
Canadian Mental Health Association -
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) -
Child and Parent Resource Institute - or call 1-519-858-2774
Children’s Mental Health Ontario - or 1-888-234-7854
Mood Disorder Association of Ontario (MDAO)- or 1-888-486-8236
Mood Disorders Society of Canada –
Offord Centre of Knowledge on Healthy Child Development -
Families for Depression Awareness -
Book title: “All Together Now: How families are affected by depression and manic depression” by MDAO