Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Could My Child Be Depressed?

By Gariane Phillips Gunter, M.D

Most of us know someone who has suffered from depression at some point in their lives. However, did you know that depression is not just something that affects adults? Depression is a serious illness that can affect anyone, at any age, including children and adolescents. When a youth is depressed nearly every part of the young person's life is impacted as well as the lives of their family. If left untreated, pediatric depression can lead to problems in school and with friends, to accidents, to substance abuse, and, in its most extreme cases, to suicide. It can disrupt relationships among family members and friends, harm school performance and limit other educational opportunities. It can lead to other health problems through its effects on eating, sleeping, and physical activity. Because it has so many consequences, it is important that depression is recognized and treated successfully. When it is, most children can get back on track with their lives.

Children suffering from depression may not have the same symptoms as adults with the same diagnosis. While adults may appear down or tearful to those around them, children may appear more irritable or complain about physical symptoms such as stomach aches or headaches. Below are differences in symptoms that may be seen in adults versus children.

Youth living with depression need a thorough evaluation and comprehensive treatment from an appropriately trained professional. Each treatment must be tailored to the individual child or adolescent. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy, has been demonstrated to significantly contribute to recovery. In addition some antidepressant medications, when monitored, can be an effective part of the treatment for pediatric depression. If you think that someone you know may be suffering from depression, please encourage them to see their doctor.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association released a revised and expanded version of The Use of Medication in Treating Childhood and Adolescent Depression: Information for Patients and Families, part of the ParentsMedGuide series of publications to help parents understand depression and treatment options.

1 comment:

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