Depression Rates On The Rise For Children and Teens

Depression Rates On The Rise For Children and Teens

Depression in children and teens can take many forms and is increasing at a shivering rate affecting their social, academic, and familial functioning.  Many children become depressed because of their difficult home life and tense family relations.  However, depression can occur at any point in a child’s life even when things seem to be going well and those affecthed may have difficulty dealing with everyday activities and responsibilities.  For instance, depression may affect the way kids behave at home and at school, how they interact with others, and how they feel about themselves.

In a recent study done by Columbia University was the first of its kind distinguishing trends in depression by gender, income, and education. This study looked at children who are the age 12 and older for a ten-year period. The study concluded in 2015 and found that children who are aged 12 to 17 increased from 8.7% in 2005 to 12.7% in 2015. 

The authors note, major depression is associated with “significant disability, morbidity, and mortality.”  Be proactive in noticing depression in children and teens with these tips: 

Some of the factors that may predispose children to depression are:

  • Parents’ functional level
  • Mental illness in a family member
  • A family history of mental illness (genetic markers)
  • Substance abuse in family
  • Loss of a parent through illness, separation, or divorce
  • A history of neglect and/or physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of a child

Know the Signs:

  • Persistent sadness and hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities once enjoyed
  • Increased irritability or agitation
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits (e.g. significant weight loss, or insomnia)
  • Indecision, lack of concentration, or forgetfulness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Frequent physical complaints, such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Lack of enthusiasm or motivation
  • Low energy and chronic fatigue
  • Thoughts of suicide

Know the Facts:

  • Children under stress, who have experienced loss, or who have attention, learning, or conduct disorders, are at a higher risk for depression
  • Adolescent girls are more likely than adolescent boys to develop depression
  • Adolescents and particularly children who develop depression are likely to have a family history of the disorder
  • Four out of every five runaway youths suffer from depression
  • As many as one in every 33 children and one in eight adolescents may have depression
  • Two-thirds of children with mental health problems do not get the help they need
  • Once a child or adolescent has experienced an episode of depression, he or she is at risk for developing another depression within the next five years
  • Depression in childhood may predict more severe depressive illness in adulthood
  • Depression in children and adolescents is associated with an increased risk for suicidal behaviors

Distinguishing “normal” misbehaviors of childhood from more worrisome problems can be challenging.  Do you find yourself asking questions such as “Are my child’s behaviors causing problems in his/her life, at home, in school, or in relationships with family or friends?” and “Are my child’s behaviors holding him/her back from gaining confidence or success?” If left untreated, childhood depression can ultimately lead to school failure, alcohol and drug use, and even suicide. Depression in children, teens, and adults is not a personal weakness; it is a mental health problem.

The good news, however, is that childhood depression is treatable, especially when it is diagnosed early. In addition, anxiety and depression interfere with school, work, health, relationships and more. Contact us today at 888-288-9834, or have someone reach out to you.

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