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  • 6/13/2010

Depression in Children (Part 2)


What Causes Depression in Children?

As in adults, depression in children can be caused by any combination of factors that relate to physical health, life events, family history, environment, genetic vulnerability and biochemical disturbance. Depression is not a passing mood, nor is it a condition that will go away without proper treatment.

Can Depression in Children Be Prevented?

Children with a family history of depression are at greater risk of experiencing depression themselves. Children who have parents that suffer from depression tend to develop their first episode of depression earlier than children whose parents do not.

Children from chaotic or conflicted families, or children and teens, who abuse substances like alcohol and drugs, are also at greater risk of depression.

How is the Diagnosis Made?

If the symptoms of depression in your child have lasted for at least two weeks, you should schedule a visit with his or her doctor to make sure there are no physical reasons for the symptoms and to make sure that your child receives proper treatment. A consultation with a mental healthcare professional who specializes in children is also recommended.

A mental health evaluation should include interviews with you (as the parents) and your child, and any additional psychological testing that is necessary. Information from teachers, friends and classmates can be useful for showing that these symptoms are consistent during your child's various activities and are a marked change from previous behavior.

There are no specific tests -- medical or psychological -- that can clearly show depression, but tools such as questionnaires (for both the child and parents) combined with personal information can be very useful.

What Can I Expect Long-Term?

Studies have found that first-time depression in children is occurring at younger ages than previously. As in adults, it may occur again later in life. Depression often occurs at the same time as other physical illnesses. And because studies have shown that depression may precede more serious mental illness later in life, diagnosis, early treatment and close monitoring are crucial.

A Parent’s Perspective

As a parent, it is sometimes easier to deny that your child has depression. You may put off seeking the help of a mental healthcare professional because of the social stigmas associated with mental illness.

It is very important for you -- as the parent -- to understand depression and realize the importance of treatment so that your child may continue to grow physically and emotionally in a healthy way.

 It is also important to seek education about the future effects depression may have on your child throughout adolescence and adulthood.

Parents should be particularly vigilant for signs that may indicate that their child is at risk for suicide.

Warning signs of suicidal behavior in children include:

• Many depressive symptoms (changes in eating, sleeping, activities)

• Social isolation

• Talk of suicide, hopelessness, or helplessness

• Increased risk-taking behaviors

• Frequent accidents

• Substance abuse

• Focus on morbid and negative themes

• Talk about death and dying

• Increased crying or reduced emotional expression

• Giving away possessions

Source: webmd.com

Other links:

Changing Thoughts Key to Battling Even Acute Depression

What is Bipolar disorder?

Symptoms & Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder: Preventing manic episodes

Bipolar Disorder in Children

Mixed Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar II Disorder

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