As an important public health issue, childhood depression deserves special attention, considering the serious and lasting consequences of the disease to child development. Taking this into consideration, the present study was based on the following question: what practical contributions to clinicians and researchers does the current literature on childhood depression have to offer? The objective of the present study was to conduct a systematic review of articles regarding childhood depression. To accomplish this purpose, a systematic review of articles on childhood depression, published from January 1, 2010 to November 24, 2012, on MEDLINE and SciELO databases was carried out. Search terms were "depression" (medical subject headings [MeSH]), "child" (MeSH), and "childhood depression" (keyword). Of the 180 retrieved studies, 25 met the eligibility criteria. Retrieved studies covered a wide range of aspects regarding childhood depression, such as diagnosis, treatment, prevention and prognosis. Recent scientific literature regarding childhood depression converge to, directly or indirectly, highlight the negative impacts of depressive disorders to the children's quality of life. Unfortunately, the retrieved studies show that childhood depression commonly grows in a background of vulnerability and poverty, where individual and familiar needs concerning childhood depression are not always taken into consideration. In this context, this review demonstrated that childhood-onset depression commonly leads to other psychiatric disorders and co-morbidities. Many of the retrieved studies also confirmed the hypothesis that human resources (eg, health care team in general) are not yet adequately trained to address childhood depression. Thus, further research on the development of programs to prepare health care professionals to deal with childhood depression is needed, as well as complementary studies, with larger and more homogeneous samples, centered on prevention and treatment of childhood depression.
Keywords: child; depression; depressive disorder; mental disorders; mental health.