Thursday, October 20, 2005

The depressed child - By Julia Nielsen

Twenty million children in the United States alone suffer from clinical depression. What is happening and how can we help?

All kids feel sad some time in their childhood, whether it be from a friend moving away or a pet that died. Nevertheless, there is also an estimated two million children who are clinically depressed--scary numbers for parents and doctors. In researching for this article, I have come away with some sobering statistics in this, the beginning of the twenty-first century.

1.Depression in children is rising. In a study done at the National Institute of Mental Health, it was concluded that depression onset is occuring earlier in life than that of the past, and that children who suffer from depression will turn either to alcohol or to crime and will at least attempt suicide in adulthood, if they don't get the necessary treatments now. My eyes grew wide when I learned of this report.

2. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among children between the ages of 10-24.

3. If you, as a parent have suffered anxiety or depression, your child has a greater than fifty percent chance that they too will develop anxiety or depression.

4. It is estimated that half of the children who have depression will never get the proper help they need.

5. Depression can lead to poor grades, poor health and poor communication skills with children.

6. By the time children who have not gotten help, reach adulthood--they will have more health problems than those who sought out help when they were children.

7. Often times, parents think the child will just, "snap out of it." Those children never get help, and therefore end up in far worse circumstances.

8. Depression is treatable. By finding the right doctor and treatment for your child, depression can be controlled and even cured.

So, what is depression and more importantly, what can we, as parents do to prevent it from occurring in our children?

Depression is characterized as having imbalances in the brain's neurotransmitters, the chemicals that allow communication between nerve cells. The neurotransmitters, Norepinpherne and Serotonin, are two chemicals whose low levels are thought to play an important role. Some doctors believe depression is heridatary, in that if parents or grandparents suffer from it, their children most likely will to. No one knows for sure why the chemicals are deficient; it could stem from genes, traumatic events, like a death or a move or from illness. Whatever the reason, depression in children is not normal. Kids need not be sad all the time. The question is, can depression be cured, before it causes major problems in the family?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression can be controlled or cured, if we catch the signs early.

· Frequent vague, non-specific physical complaints such as headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches or tiredness

· Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school

· Talk of or efforts to run away from home

· Outbursts of shouting, complaining, unexplained irritability, or crying

· Being bored

· Lack of interest in playing with friends

· Alcohol or substance abuse

· Social isolation, poor communication

· Fear of death

· Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure

· Increased irritability, anger, or hostility

· Reckless behavior

· Difficulty with relationships

If your child exhibits these signs, talk to a counselor as soon as possible. The earlier parents get help, the better. Children do not need to suffer needlessly nor do they need to feel as if they are alone.

There are all sorts of treatments out there for adolescent depression, but before you call a psychiatrist or stock your medicine cabinet with drugs, talk to your child and your doctor. Not all drugs are right for children and some can make the depression worse or have bad side effects. The most important thing you can do for your child is to discuss treatment options. The more the child feels in control of their depression, the better. If they are hesitant about medication, listen to why they are afraid and then come to a decision that will benefit everyone. Not all depressed children need drugs; some just need someone to listen to, someone they can relate to and someone who will understand and accept what they are feeling. The same with psychiatrists; children have different needs. It is vital that you pick someone that the child will feel comfortable talking with and expressing their feelings. Get on the Internet and research medications; if you feel that is the route, you would like to take.

The worst thing a parent can do is give up on their child. They need their parents more than anything. Often times, children do not know why they are feeling sad and they are scared. If the depression is because of a friend or loved one who has died or the fact that someone is bullying then in school, make it a point to talk to the school counselor and even the principal. Let them know what is going on so they can be aware and help the child.

I do not think we can necessarily prevent depression from ever entering out child's life. Just by watching the news or reading the newspaper, children get a sense of the real world around them and the things that make them fearful. In depressed children, these feelings can be overwhelming. We can help by not setting their feelings aside. We can be there for them; we can strive to help them have self-confidence and self-esteem. We can listen to their fears, hopes and dreams.

I still feel--and this is my opinion--that children need to be heard. Talk to them; find out what could be the reason that they are sad. If they are hesitant about speaking to you, or just do not want to, have a close relative or friend try to talk to your child. Sometimes, anxious parents can be a deterrent for children when they are feeling sad. We, as Parents mean well, but we could be the reason they are depressed. Children need to feel that by talking to us they will not feel as if we are judging them or making them feel bad for feeling the way they do.

Depression among adolescents is rising; let's do something before it gets out of control and help kids become kids again.

Written by Julia Nielsen - © 2002 Pagewise


Anonymous said...

Everyone has days when they are down, worn out, anxiety meds and just not feeling all that happy.

That's OK, you need to have days like this, otherwise how would you know when you are happy. You need to have something to contrast your happiness with. What is black without white?

Even though you know that sadness (anxiety meds) is a part of life, let's try to make it a small part of life.

With that said, here are a few tips to help you feel better when you are feeling down in the dumps. They are easy to do, easy to practice every day and they work!

1. Stand up straight, sit up straight. When your body is in alignment your energy can flow and when your energy is flowing freely, you can flow.

2. Smile! Yes, just smile. Easy to do and effective.

3. Repeat positive affirmations. Things like "I feel good", "Positive energy flows through my body", "I see the good in all".

4. Listen to some music that you like. It doesn't have to be anything specific, just something you enjoy. Certain types of music work better than others, but experiment and see what works for you. Studies have shown that Classical music and new age music work best.

5. Take some time out for yourself, relax and read a book, do something for yourself.

6. Meditate. Meditation is an excellent habit to develop. It will serve you in all that you do. If you are one who has a hard time sitting still, then try some special meditation CDs that coax your brain into the meditative state. Just search for "Meditation music" on Google or Yahoo and explore.

Our outside work is simply a reflection of our inside world. Remember there is no reality just your perception of it. Use this truth to your advantage. Whenever you are sad, realize that it is all in your mind and you do have the power to change your perception.

These tips will lift you up when you are down, but don't just use them when you are sad or anxiety meds . Try and practice them everyday, make them a habit. You will be surprised at how these simple exercises will keep the rainy days away.

On a final note, if you are in a deep depression that you can't seem to shake, please go see a doctor. This is your life and don't take any chances. anxiety meds

Anonymous said...

Many of our modern drugs have harsh side-affects and cost the “earth”, so the next time you come down with a cold or the flu or separation anxiety, why not try a gentle alternative that costs next to nothing?

Instead of immediately forking over large amounts of money for over-the-counter drugs, go to the kitchen cupboard and see what you can find to relieve your symptoms including separation anxiety.

Here are some helpful hints for separation anxiety …

A simple hot compress applied to the face is very soothing to those throbbing aches and pains of a blocked sinus, while a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a handkerchief can provide welcome relief for similar conditions. While supplements of vitamin C, D and zinc will shorten the lifespan of a common cold, a hot lemon drink is also extremely good. And be sure to cuddle-up in bed when you have a cold, as it will make the body sweat out the germs.

Cool lemon juice and honey are a great soother for a sore throat and gives the body much-needed vitamin C at the same time The juice of one lemon in a glass of water is sufficient. Melt the honey in a little hot water for ease of mixing.

A smear of Vaseline or petroleum jelly will do wonders for those sore lips and nose that often accompany a cold.

A 'streaming cold' where the nose and eyes water profusely, can respond to drinking onion water. Simply dip a slice of onion into a glass of hot water for two seconds, then sip the cooled water throughout the day. Half an onion on the bedside table also alleviates cold symptoms because its odor is inhaled while you sleep.

People prone to catarrh may find that chewing the buds from a pine or larch throughout the day will clear up their condition in just a few days.

Do you suffer from sore eyes? If your eyes are sore from lengthy exposure to the sun, try beating the white of an egg and then spread it over a cloth and bandage the eyes with it. Leave the preparation on overnight. Soft cheese (quark) is also a good remedy for this condition.

For those unpleasant times when you suffer from diarrhea, two tablespoons of brown vinegar will usually fix the problem. Vinegar can be rather horrible to take, but who cares! The problem is more horrible. Vinegar can usually be found in most people's cupboards, so you don't need to worry about finding someone to run to the shop for you in an emergency.

Sleepless? Instead of reaching for sleeping pills, which can quickly become addictive, try this: Drink only caffeine free tea or coffee starting late in the afternoon.. Go to bed earlier rather than later, as being overtired tends to keep people awake. Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet. Use only pure wool or cotton sheets and blankets. Polyester materials can cause sweat and make you thirsty (if your child constantly asks for water throughout the night, this could be the reason).

And don't watch those scary movies just before retiring! If you still can't sleep, make a tea of lemongrass or drink a nightcap of herbal tea containing chamomile. It's easy to grow lemongrass in your garden or start a flower pot on the balcony for ease of picking. Simply steep a handful in boiling water for five minutes. Honey may be added for a sweetener.

Of course there will be times when you do need modern drugs, so if these simple remedies don't have the required affect, be sure to see a health care professional.

separation anxiety

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