Mood Disorders

Like adults, children and adolescents can experience mental health problems that affect their emotional state (or mood). Mood disorders include different types of depression and bipolar disorder. These problems go beyond the normal feelings of sadness and other everyday emotions that children and adolescents experience. 

Research shows that children who have a parent with a mood disorder have increased risk of having a mood disorder themselves. 

Click on the disorder name to learn more about it from the A-Z Disorder Guide provided by the NYU Child Study Center.


Approximately 5 percent of children and adolescents experience depression. This disorder can lead to poor school performance, social isolation, relationship problems, self-harm or (in extreme cases) suicide. There are effective treatments available for depression and it is important to seek treatment if you think your child may be suffering from this disorder.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a type of depression in which children go through periods of being very depressed followed by periods of high energy, overactivity, and/or extreme irritability.

Resources on Depression

The Depressed Child - Facts for Families (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry)

Depression and High School Students (National Institute of Mental Health)


Resources on Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens: A Parent's Guide (National Institute of Mental Health)

Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation


There is a strong link between teen depression and suicide. To learn more, visit:

About Teen Suicide (KidsHealth - for parents)

Suicide (KidsHealth - for teens)

Help Stop Teen Suicide (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Suicide: A major preventable mental health problem (National Institute of Mental Health)




Information provided on this website about common emotional and behavioral problems experienced by children is drawn from sources including:

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (Revised 4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Boston Bar Association. (2009). The Parents' How-to Guide to Children's Mental Health Services in Massachusetts (2nd edition). Boston: Author.  URL: Accessed: 2010-12-09. (Archived by WebCite® at

Klimkeit, E. I., Mattingley, J. B., Sheppard, D. M., Farrow, M., Bradshaw, J. L. (2004). Examining the Development of Attention and Executive Functions in Children with a Novel Paradigm. Child Neuropsychology, 10 (3), 201-211.

NYU Child Study Center. A-Z Disorder Guide. URL: Accessed: 2010-12-09. (Archived by WebCite® at


Date Reviewed: May 31, 2011