Dyslexia and depression

By Julie Rawe

Expert reviewed by Karen Wilson, PhD

Kids with dyslexia are more likely than other kids to have depression, especially as they reach their teen years. (Depression is also common in kids with ADHD.)

Why do dyslexia and depression often co-occur in young people, as well as in adults? Researchers point to a few reasons:

  • Stress: Dyslexia makes going to school stressful because nearly every class involves at least some reading. And chronic stress makes people more likely to develop depression. 
  • Low self-esteem: Trouble keeping up with schoolwork can wear down kids’ self-esteem. They may start to think they aren’t smart or that they need to hide who they are.
  • Social isolation: Some struggling students would rather skip school or get sent to the principal than be embarrassed in front of their peers. This can lead to feeling isolated.
  • Co-occurring conditions: Many people with dyslexia have co-occurring conditions, like anxiety or ADHD. These other conditions can raise the risk for depression. 

With the right support, young people with dyslexia and depression can manage these conditions and thrive. Keep reading to learn what depression looks like in kids — and find out how to help.

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About the author

About the author

Julie Rawe is the special projects editor at Understood.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Karen Wilson, PhD specializes in the assessment of neurodevelopmental disorders in children and adolescents, with extensive experience evaluating children and adults who have neurological, medical, and social-emotional challenges.