8 Depression Facts Every Parent Should Know
Clinical depression isn’t something that’s ordinarily thought of as a childhood issue. But the truth is, it’s more common than you think. Depression in childhood has a clinical name: Pediatric Depression. And here are some facts about this serious, but treatable illness every parent should know.
1) Depression isn’t a weakness or a result of laziness. It’s REAL. Depression is a very real illness that affects the emotional, social, behavioral and physical health of children and adults. There are genetic and biological factors that predispose a child for depression, but life experiences also influence its development.
2) It affects BABIES, CHILDREN and TEENS. Pediatric depression is a significant health concern. Evidence suggests that 4% of preschool aged children, 5% of school-aged children and 11% percent of adolescents meet the criteria for major depression.
3) Depression will NOT go away on its own. A serious mental illness cannot be willed away or brushed aside with a change in attitude. Ignoring the problem doesn’t give it the slip either. Depression is serious, but treatable illness, with a success rates of upwards of 80% children who receive treatment.
4) Good parents CAN’T always detect if their child is depressed. Most children who suffer with depression keep their thoughts and feelings masked. The only way for parents to understand depression is to be aware of the age specific behaviors and symptoms. Depression is not a result of bad parenting.
5) A depressed child is usually NOT a loner. It’s important for parents to know that children often mask their depression. So a child can present as happy, social or untroubled on the outside, though internally she is struggling terribly with negative thoughts and despairing feelings.
6) If your depressed child refuses help, there are many things YOU CAN DO AS A PARENT. If your child won’t go for talk therapy or take medication, there are ways to help. You can seek therapy – separately – with a trained mental health specialist to learn how to help your child in spite of the fact that he won’t attend sessions. Make sure you reach out to your child’s school for support, and consider touching base with other places your child spends time. In a crisis situation, you can drive your child to the nearest hospital emergency room, or contact family, friends or the local police for assistance in getting him there.
7) The risk of suicide for children is VERY high. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in adolescents ages 15 to 24, and is the 6th leading cause of death in children ages 5 to14. Suicide is significantly linked to depression, so early diagnosis and treatment of pediatric depression is extremely important.
8) Seriously depressed CAN lead productive lives. Many children with depression can grow up to live full, productive lives. In fact, many high profile people, including President Abraham Lincoln, Writer J.K. Rowlings, Artist Michelangelo, Actor Harrison Ford, Choreographer Alvin Ailey, Actress Courteney Cox, Entrepreneur Richard Branson, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Rocker Bruce Springsteen and Baseballer Ken Griffey, Jr. have been very successful in their chosen professions – despite struggling with depression in their young lives
Dr. Deborah Serani is a go-to media expert on a variety of psychological issues. Her interviews can be found in ABC News, Newsday, Womens Health & Fitness, The Chicago Tribune, The Associated Press, and affiliate radio station programs at CBS and NPR,just to name a few. She is a ShareCare Expert for Dr. Oz, writes for Psychology Today, helms the “Ask the Therapist” column for Esperanza Magazine and has worked as a technical advisor for the NBC television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. A licensed psychologist in practice over twenty years, Serani is also an adjunct professor at Adelphi Universityteaching courses in clinical disorders and treatment and is the author of the award-winning book “Living with Depression.”
Seeing your child suffer in any way is a harrowing experience for any parent. Mental illness in children can be particularly draining due to the mystery surrounding it, and the issue of diagnosis at such a tender age. Depression and Your Child gives parents and caregivers a uniquely textured understanding of pediatric depression, its causes, its symptoms, and its treatments. Author Deborah Serani weaves her own personal experiences of being a depressed child along with her clinical experiences as a psychologist treating depressed children.
Current research, treatments and trends are presented in easy to understand language and tough subjects like self-harm, suicide and recovery plans are addressed with supportive direction. Parents will learn tips on how to discipline a depressed child, what to expect from traditional treatments like psychotherapy and medication, how to use holistic methods to address depression, how to avoid caregiver burnout, and how to move through the trauma of diagnosis and plan for the future.
Real life cases highlight the issues addressed in each chapter and resources and a glossary help to further understanding for those seeking additional information. Parents and caregivers are sure to find here a reassuring approach to childhood depression that highlights the needs of the child even while it emphasizes the need for caregivers to care for themselves and other family members as well.
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