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Depressive disorders, which include major depressive
disorder (unipolar depression), dysthymic
disorder (chronic, mild depression), and bipolar
disorder (manic-depression), can have far reaching effects on the
functioning and adjustment of young people. Among both children and adolescents,
depressive disorders produce an increased risk for illness and interpersonal
and psychosocial difficulties, that persist long after the depressive
episode is resolved; in adolescents there is also an increased risk for
substance abuse and suicidal behaviour.
Click here for a list of risk factors associated with childhood depression.
Symptoms and Signs
The diagnostic criteria and key defining features of major
depressive disorder in children and adolescents are the same as
they are for adults. However, recognition and diagnosis of the disorder
may be more difficult in youth for several reasons. The way symptoms are
expressed varies with the developmental stage of the child. In addition,
children and young adolescents with depression may have difficulty in
properly identifying and describing their internal emotional or mood states.
Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder Common to Adults, Children, and Adolescents
Five or more of these symptoms must persist for 2 or more weeks before a diagnosis of major depression is indicated.
Signs That May Be Associated with Depression in Children and Adolescents
While the recovery rate from a single episode of major depression in children and adolescents is quite high, episodes are likely to recur. In addition, youth with dysthymic disorder are at risk for developing major depression. Prompt identification and treatment of depression can reduce its duration and severity and associated functional impairment.
Diagnosis and Treatment
There are several tools that are useful for screening children and adolescents for possible depression. They include the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI) for ages 7 to 17; and, for adolescents, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) Scale. When a youngster screens positive on any of these instruments, a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation by a mental health professional is warranted. The evaluation should include interviews with the youth, parents, and when possible, other informants such as teachers and social services personnel.
Treatment for depressive disorders in children and adolescents often involves short-term psychotherapy (particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy ), antidepressant medication, or a combination of both, as well as targeted interventions involving the home or school environment. The use of medication in children and adolescents, however, has caused controversy, as, until fairly recently, little evidence was available about the safety and efficacy of these drugs in youth.
The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken
from the following source(s):
|http://www.hon.ch/Dossier/MotherChild/child_mentalhealth/mentalhealth_depression.html||Last modified: Jun 25 2002|