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Children and Depression in the United States

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Children and Depression in the United States--Is It a Real Problem?

In the past, depression in children was not thought of as a problem, but new statistics say differently. Two-thirds of children with diagnosable mental heath problems are left untreated (NMHA, 2006). Research is showing that most adults with depression began their history as a child. It is critical that early identification be discovered and treated. I agree that depression is real during childhood and recognizing its symptoms can be critical to the well-being of a child's present and future years.

Untreated children can lead to problems at school, at home, in the community and with drugs, alcohol and even suicide. A better awareness of the signs of childhood depression has been established by the National Mental Health Association (Childhood Depression Awareness Day-May 3) in its attempts to focus on the seriousness of this problem. Making both parents and adults that are in regular contact with children more aware of early symptoms can assist with identification and treatment.

One tool is a checklist has been devised (Dubuque, 1996) listing possible feelings, thoughts, physical and behavioral problems that a child might be experiencing. A coordinating chart is available for the adult to list detailed examples of the individual child's symptoms. A completed, detailed checklist will provide a doctor or therapist with insight to a child's emotional state.

I believe that Dr. Jensen's recommendation for parents to educate themselves is necessary. Parents need to seek accurate information from hotlines, libraries, and the Internet. Left untreated, children's depression can lead to life-threatening situations.

Children and Depression References

Dubuque, S.E. (1996). A Parent's Survival Guide to Childhood Depression.

King of Prussia, PA: The Center for Applied Psychology, Inc.

Jensen, P. (2001). Is Your Child Depressed? and the Corpus Christi Caller Times.

National Mental Health Association (2006). Child



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