Treatment for Depression in Children

 What is Childhood Depression?

Does your child struggle with nightmares or falling asleep in their own room?  Do they frequently initiate conflict with other children?  Is your child frequently tearful or tired? 

Depression looks different with children.  Most notably, children who struggle with depression can appear irritable, defiant, or aggressive, rather than the typical hopelessness or helplessness seen in adults. 

Depression is one of the most common disorders in the U.S., with approximately 1 in 10 people suffering from clinically significant symptoms (Compton, Conway, Stinson, & Grant, 2006; CDC, 2010). 

Symptoms of depression might include (DSM-5):

  • Bouts of anger
  • Lack of focus or attention
  • Loss of hope
  • Helplessness
  • Feeling down or sad
  • Sleep or appetite changes
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of suicide or death*
  • Isolation or loneliness

* If you or a loved one is experiencing thoughts of suicide, contact the suicide hotline immediately (1-800-273-8255), or call 911. 

Depression can begin with traumatic experiences, major life changes, issues with health or diet, and other factors. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the U.S. (CDC, 2010), resulting in long-term consequences and missed opportunities.  For example, a child with depression may struggle to focus in class, thereby decreasing academic performance, thereby resulting in inability to attend college or get a well-suited job. 

Do not wait, take action today to improve your child’s wellbeing.  If you or your child struggles with symptoms of depression, please contact me as soon as possible. 

Treatment for Depression

Psychotherapy helps children with depression learn about their feelings and how to more effectively manage stress so they can get back to being happy kids

Psychotherapy is the safest and most effective treatment option for children with depression (Barth et al, 2013; Beard et al, 2016).  With younger children, parents are often involved in the treatment process to expedite the child’s progress.  

As with other mental health concerns, the first and most important step for treatment involves careful diagnosis and treatment planning.  Depression and anxiety can look very similarly in children, and the treatment is different. 

As a Cognitive Behavioral psychologist, I focus on your child’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to their symptoms of depression.  As your child progresses in therapy, they will learn to:

  • Communicate feelings of distress in a healthy manner
  • Identify problematic ways of thinking
  • Develop comfort with sharing openly with parents
  • Decrease thoughts of suicide
  • Feel more connected with family and friends
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Have control over life’s challenges

I believe that your child has the power to overcome their struggles.  As we work together as a team to help them deal with depression, your child will feel supported during this difficult time. 

If you, your child, or a loved one struggles with symptoms of depression, contact me as soon as possible to schedule your first session.  To read about how depression affects adults, check out the Treatment of Depression in Adults page to learn more. 

Interested?  Let’s Connect!

If you are interested in therapy services, please contact me as soon as possible. I would love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have about my practice. 

It is never too late to receive treatment.  I believe I can help make a difference in your child’s life.  Together, we can get them one step closer to optimal health. 

Read About Dr. Montgomery

Want to learn more about me? 

Click on the About tab to find out more about my credentials and get a better sense for who I am.

I help people and their families in the Newport Beach area, but I also work with folks from Irvine, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Rancho Santa Margarita, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, Anaheim, Orange, Tustin, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, Dana Point, Fountain Valley and more.

Want to Learn More? 

Want to learn more about therapy, assessment, and mental illness?  

Check out the tabs above, or click on the links below:


Barth, J., Munder, T., Gerger, H., Nüesch, E., Trelle, S., Znoj, H., ... & Cuijpers, P. (2013). Comparative efficacy of seven psychotherapeutic interventions for patients with depression: a network meta-analysis. PLoS medicine10(5), e1001454.

Beard, C., Stein, A. T., Hearon, B. A., Lee, J., Hsu, K. J., & Björgvinsson, T. (2016). Predictors of depression treatment response in an intensive CBT partial hospital. Journal of clinical psychology72(4), 297-310.

Carter, J. D., McIntosh, V. V., Jordan, J., Porter, R. J., Frampton, C. M., & Joyce, P. R. (2013). Psychotherapy for depression: a randomized clinical trial comparing schema therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. Journal of affective disorders151(2), 500-505.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC. (2010). Current depression among adults-United States, 2006 and 2008. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report59(38), 1229.

Compton, W. M., Conway, K. P., Stinson, F. S., & Grant, B. F. (2006). Changes in the prevalence of major depression and comorbid substance use disorders in the United States between 1991–1992 and 2001–2002. American Journal of Psychiatry163(12), 2141-2147.

Cuijpers, P., Sijbrandij, M., Koole, S. L., Andersson, G., Beekman, A. T., & Reynolds, C. F. (2013). The efficacy of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy in treating depressive and anxiety disorders: A meta‐analysis of direct comparisons. World Psychiatry12(2), 137-148.

Honyashiki, M., Furukawa, T. A., Noma, H., Tanaka, S., Chen, P., Ichikawa, K., ... & Caldwell, D. M. (2014). Specificity of CBT for depression: A contribution from multiple treatments meta-analyses. Cognitive therapy and research38(3), 249-260.

Pehrson, A. L., Leiser, S. C., Gulinello, M., Dale, E., Li, Y., Waller, J. A., & Sanchez, C. (2015). Treatment of cognitive dysfunction in major depressive disorder—a review of the preclinical evidence for efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors and the multimodal-acting antidepressant vortioxetine. European journal of pharmacology753, 19-31.