Almost 60,000 children were treated in Catalonia in 2013; 4.1% of them under the age of 18, at Child and Youth mental healthcare facilities (CSMIJ). According to the Regional Health Ministry of Catalonia, up to 19% of minors have been treated compared to five years ago, and this number keep increasing. Marta Poll, director of the Federació Salut Mental de Catalunya, underlines the 7% rise in cases treated cases at the CSMIJ.

Around 20% of cases attended last year had some symptoms of depression. These symptoms change depending on the age of the minor.

According to María Dolores Picouto, head of the affective disorder and suicidal behaviour unit, the youngest ones are those of preschool age. “Pre-schoolers don’t have the cognitive ability to show complex feelings such as sadness and hopelessness. That is the reason why the predominant symptoms are irritability, common weeping and anxiety”. Picouto explains that pre-schoolers may also show biological symptoms such as an absence of hunger and a reduction of food intake.

The diagnosis of depression in childhood and adolescence is not easy. Depression in adolescents is similar to adult depression but it presents very few changes. In addition, Jon Izaguirre, psychiatrist in charge of CSMIJ’s coordination and day hospital for adolescents in Mollet del Vallés stresses that “Symptomatology is rarely clear”.

In many cases, minors visit a specialist due to problems at home or school. Izaguirre confirms that “Some of them have an aggressive tone or overuse medication to escape from an uncomfortable situation”.

To cope with child depression, treatment must be exclusively psychotherapeutic in the most moderate profiles. In other profiles, treatment combines psychotherapy and pharmacological treatment.


Source: El Periódico de Catalunya. La depresión infantil y juvenil se agazapa bajo otros males. Available on: