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Links to our Depression Support Group & Information

Depression Introduction Causes Of Depression Symptoms of Depression Depression And Other Illnesses
Treatment Of Depression Getting Help for Depression Depression in the Elderly Depression in Children
Depression in Women Types of Depression Diagnosis Evaluation and Treatment Medications for Depression
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Depression in Children

Only in the past two decades has depression in children been taken very seriously. The depressed child may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that the parent may die. Older children may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative, grouchy, and feel misunderstood. Because normal behaviors vary from one childhood stage to another, it can be difficult to tell whether a child is just going through a temporary "phase" or is suffering from depression. Sometimes the parents become worried about how the child's behavior has changed, or a teacher mentions that "Johnny doesn't seem to be himself." In such a case, if a visit to the child's pediatrician rules out physical symptoms, the doctor will probably suggest that the child be evaluated, preferably by a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of children. If treatment is needed, the doctor may suggest that another therapist, a social worker or a psychologist, provide therapy while the psychiatrist will oversee medication if it is needed.

    Parents should not be afraid to ask these questions:

  1. What are the therapist's qualifications?
  2. What kind of therapy will the child have?
  3. Will the family as a whole participate in therapy?
  4. Will my child's therapy include an antidepressant?
  5. If so, what might the side effects be?

Large-scale research studies have reported that up to 2.5 percent of children and up to 8.3 percent of adolescents in the United States suffer from depression. In addition, research has discovered that depression onset is occurring earlier in individuals born in more recent decades. There is evidence that depression emerging early in life often persists, recurs, and continues into adulthood, and that early onset depression may predict more severe illness in adult life. Diagnosing and treating children and adolescents with depression is critical to prevent impairment in academic, social, emotional, and behavioral functioning and to allow children to live up to their full potential.

Depression in children and adolescents is associated with an increased risk of suicidal behaviors. Over the last several decades, the suicide rate in young people has increased dramatically. In 1996, the most recent year for which statistics are available, suicide was the third leading cause of death in 15-24 year olds and the fourth leading cause among 10-14 year olds. Early diagnosis and treatment of depression and other mental disorders, and accurate evaluation of suicidal thinking, possibly hold the greatest suicide prevention value.

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