Children's DepressionUntil recently, it was thought that children do not experience depression. But studies reveal that even infants can suffer from depression. Depression can make a child's life miserable, impair normal development, and even result in death in children who may become suicidal. While many factors can trigger depression, such as stressful or traumatic events or an inherited vulnerability, researchers now believe that all depression can be linked to biochemical changes in the brain.
While depression can occur at anytime across the lifespan, it has a higher occurrence during adolescence. Eighty percent of depressed children go undiagnosed and untreated. Untreated depression may disappear after 7-9 months, but it is more likely to return in more severe episodes. Children with untreated depression are at high risk for substance abuse. Early intervention is a key to effective treatment and the prevention of long term problems. All symptoms of depression are recognizable and treatable. Children with depression might have a hard time with schoolwork, have frequent stomachaches , nightmares, and withdrawal or lack of emotions.
Parents will need to understand that a child's response to treatment may take some time. However, parents should expect a certain level of competency which includes:
Can you afford help for your child? Most insurance companies make provision for mental health services. While some have higher co-pays or set lifetime limits, initial help is usually available and reasonable. Remember that the earlier the intervention, the less extensive will be the treatment needs.
For further information of childhood depression you can call Mental Health America at 1-800-969-6642 or log onto www.nmha.org.