Identifying depression in children


MAJOR DEPRESSION is not common among children, although it is possible a teen may experience this form of depression. This type of depression is the result of an imbalance in brain chemicals and it requires treatment of antidepressants. Teens who experience major depression will be focused on themselves and their problems. They will be moody, uncommunicative, either overeating or not eating, and they will seek relief from their emotional pain. This is when most teens will turn to using drugs or alcohol or both. Psychiatrist Oscar Bukstein of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, PA, says, "Kids often don't turn to drugs unless they have a coexisting psychiatric disorder. Children with inherited predisposition's to low levels of serotonin and other brain chemicals have a high risk of becoming addicted to a great variety of drugs, including cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, in an attempt to medicate themselves."

DYSTHYMIA is another classification. It means "low-grade" depression. The symptoms are not as pronounced as they are with major or manic depression. If your child is having difficulty staying focused in school, is moody, complains a lot about physical symptoms and what a "bum-deal" he's received from life, you may want to have him checked for dysthymia. This classification can be effectively cured with antidepressant medication.

As with adults, it may take some experimenting to find the right medication to treat depression. The right antidepressant will improve the metabolism of neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. This will, in turn, normalize a depressed child's moods that can interfere with the ability to learn and develop socially. Most antidepressants are designed for short-term usage, usually not longer than two years. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions and advice.

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