What is it?

A depressive disorder is when a person has low mood, less interest or enjoyment in activities and other symptoms that have lasted for at least two weeks. In children, they may become more irritable and have temper outbursts (referred to as disruptive mood dysregulation disorder) which can be confused for a paediatric bipolar disorder presentation.

A bipolar disorder is when a person has a manic or hypomanic episode. Mania or hypomania includes the person feeling very happy and positive (more than a normal level) or irritable, and being lots more active and energetic for at least a week. They may also have a depressive episode.


Depressive Disorders

Disruptive Emotional Dysregulation Disorder

Severe verbal and behavioural temper outbursts happening for at least 12 months.

Major Depressive Episode

Low mood (or irritability) and/or not wanting to go out or enjoying it when they do. This lasts for at least two weeks.

Persistent Depressive Episode (Dysthymia)

Low mood most of the day for more than one year.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Changes in mood, irritability and other symptoms in the week before a period starts and getting better a few days after the period begins.


Bipolar Disorders

Bipolar I Disorder

Presence of manic episode (7+ days) with or without hypomanic or major depressive episodes.

Bipolar II Disorder

The person has hypomanic episodes (which last for four or more days) and has or has had major depressive episodes.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Chronic up and down moods for at least a year in children that may ore may not be severe enough to be classed as a depressive or hypomanic episode.


What will my GP do now?

Your GP may refer your child for treatment. Mild to moderate depressive disorders can be treated effectively with early intervention . A referral does not mean that your child is seriously mentally unwell. If it is possible that your child may be diagnosied with bipolar, your GP may refer you to a specialist for an assessment and treatment.

Your GP may also:

  • Refer you to a counselling service so your child can learn how to manage the depression
  • Refer you to a family service to provide family support
  • Refer you to a specialist service if the depression is severe or if your child might need medication