My daughter has been showing signs of depression since even before she turned 3.
At age 5 (this past summer) we found out she has Celiac disease. I took her off gluten AND all dairy (just had a feeling she was also reacting to that) and her moods improved DRAMATICALLY. I really was shocked within a few days how she was smiling, she wasn't hiding behind the couch anymore unable to speak, etc.
When she's back on dairy, she literally turns into this sad, weepy, AGGRESSIVE (totally out of character for her), depressed mess. I *highly* recommend the book Is This Your Child
by Doris Rapp. She has chapters in there about depression, aggresion, including info on suicidal behaviour etc.
While I never felt her depression was 'cured', she was much
better and honestly I'd never seen her smile so much which is bittersweet to me...more recently, I felt she was getting low again (new baby, winter it's really dark and freezing around here,etc) but not as bad as she was.
About a month back I took her in to my ND and we found out she also Leaky Gut Syndrome and has a severe B-12 deficiency, one of the symptoms is also depression. She also has the tingly hands/feet and bedwetting (b12 defiencey effects the nerves including the bladder) so right now we are working on those things. Trying to fill her up with as much nutrients as possible as I'm sure the Celiac is the culprit.
I guess what I'm getting at is, *for me*, my first line of defense would be finding out about any medical/nutritional causes to get at the root of the problem. Next I'd go for natural antidepressants (homeopathic, st.john's wort, 5-htp, etc.) After that I'm not opposed to regular antidepressants. I went on them myself in highschool and they were the best thing ever!
I also want to mention as an aside, I remember being very 'aware' of my own depression at age 9. I guess not knowing what it was, just that I was always "sad for no reason" and that "I've always felt like this my whole life". I did however exhibit symptoms way before that, around pre-K age. AFter talking to my mom and from my own memories, my dd was acting EXACTLY like I was, even VERY specific behaviours like obsessively picking at our cuticles, hiding behind the couch, not being able to speak when upset, etc. Her and I have the exact same medical problems. I found out a few months before her, that I too have Celiac and dairy allergy and we were both severely anemic despite eating meat/iron-rich foods our whole lives. WE're on the road to recovery but it's not easy.
to you and your family. Depression sucks.