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Childhood Depression a Serious Problem

There are still too many people who think that depression is an illness that is suffered either by adult premenstrual women or old men. These people have a lot to learn about this very difficult disorder. The scary thing is that with nearly sixteen percent of all Americas suffering from depression at some point in their lives the stereotypical picture of a depressive is far from true. A frighteningly large number of those who suffer from episodes of depression are under twenty. Researchers are beginning to understand that this is a serious problem amongst the youth of this country. Studies are telling them that one in every eight teenagers and one in every thirty-three children under the age of twelve are suffering from depression. This becomes a bigger problem because if a child has a depressive episode so young it means they are likely to have another within five years time.


Unfortunately an equally big problem is that depression is not always recognized in young people and so they do not get the medical care and family support that they need to get through this problem. This is particularly sad when you realize that just like adults children receiving the correct medication can improve just as well as adults do. This lack of understanding and medical intervention may account for the high suicide rate among young people. In fifteen to twenty four year olds suicide is the third leading cause of death. Frighteningly it is the sixth landing cause of death among those five to fifteen and worse still the overall rate of suicide for those under twenty four has tripled in the last forty years.


What can be done to help our children? First, watch for signs that they may be struggling with an episode of depression. Signs to watch for include an increase in irritability, poor school performance, radical changes in eating and sleeping routines, or seeming to feel sad, worthless or hopeless consistently. If the child seems to have a self-esteem problem, lacks enthusiasm or withdraws from things that previously were much enjoyed these are warning signs. If you hear your child talk of death or suicide this puts them at risk and you must get your health care provider involved immediately. Teenagers may slip into drug or alcohol abuse as they try to find any answer to the pain they are suffering.


The best thing to do if you suspect your child is suffering from an episode of depression is to talk to your health care provider. Research on your own as well, so you can better understand what your child is going through. Then see if you can persuade your child to get some help. This help can come through your health care provide in the form of medications such as antidepressants, therapy with your health care provider alone or in group therapy or both. But either way your child will need your support not your recriminations, as this will be a difficult time for them.
 

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