The National Mental Health Association
More than 6 million young people in America suffer from some sort of mental health disorder that severely disrupts his or her ability to function at home, in school, or in their community.) Major depression is one of the mental, emotional and behavior disorders that can appear during childhood and adolescence. Depression in children can lead to school failure, alcohol or other drug use, and even suicide. The good news is that depression is a treatable medical illness with definite symptoms and effective treatments, and like many other illnesses, early recognition and t eatment increase the chances that treatment will be successful.
Symptoms of child and adolescent depression vary in severity and duration and may be different from those in adults. Young people with depression may have a hard time coping with everyday activities and responsibilities, difficulty in getting along with others and/or suffer from low self-esteem. Child and adolescent psychiatrists advise parents and other important adults in a young person's life to be aware of signs such as:
Depressed young people who exhibit additional symptoms, such as insomnia, panic attacks and delusions or hallucinations, are at particular risk for suicide. Child and adolescent psychiatrists recommend that if one or more of these symptoms persists, children need to seek professional help.
If parents/adults in a young person's life suspect a problem with depression, they should:
It is important for people who are not satisfied with the mental health care they are receiving to discuss their concerns with the provider, ask for information and seek help from other sources.
Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for children with depression. Children who exhibit symptoms of depression should be referred to and further evaluated by a child and adolescent psychiatrist, who can diagnose and treat depression in children and teenagers. The diagnostic evaluation may include psychological testing, laboratory tests and consultation with other medical specialists. The comprehensive treatment plan may include medical psychotherapy, ongoing evaluations and monitoring, and in some cases, psychiatric medication. Optimally, this plan is developed with the family and, whenever possible, the child or adolescent is involved in the decisions.
Campaign on Clinical Depression -
National Mental Health Association -
Depression Awareness, Recognition, and Treatment (D/ART) -
National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association -
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) -
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
To locate a free and confidential depression screening site near you,
National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Part of CYFERNET, the National Extension Service
Children Youth and Family Educational Research Network. Permission is granted to reproduce
these materials in whole or in part for educational purposes only (not for profit beyond the cost of
reproduction) provided that the author and Network receive acknowledgment and this notice is
Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC. National Mental Health Association (1998). Clinical Depression and Children/Adolescents, National Mental Health Association: Alexandria, VA.
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NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION
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Alexandria, VA 22314-2971
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