Persistent sadness, withdrawal from
family and friends, loss of interest in activities that were once
enjoyed, increased irritability or agitation, changes in eating
and sleeping habits (e.g., significant weight loss, insomnia,
excessive sleep), frequent physical complaints, such as headaches
and stomachaches, lack of enthusiasm or motivation, decreased
energy level and chronic fatigue, play that involves excessive
aggression toward self or others, or that involves persistently
sad themes, indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness,
feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, recurring thoughts
of death or suicide.
Talk to the child about how he or
she is feeling
Educate yourself - which you've
already taken the first step with by reading this
Know the signs for depression, and
note the duration, frequency and severity of troubling behavior
If the child is struggling with any
combination of the signs for depression for more than two weeks in
different settings, then take your child to a mental health
professional or doctor.
Ask questions about treatments and
services. A comprehensive treatment plan may include
psychotherapy, ongoing evaluation and, in some cases, medication.
Optimally, the treatment plan is developed with the family, and
whenever possible, the child.
Talk to other families in your
community or find a family network organization.
For more information, contact your
local Mental Health Association or Mental Health America at www.mentalhealthamerica.net
Depression affects as many as one in every 33 children - and
one in 8 adolescents, according to the federal Center for Mental
Health Services. Fortunately, depression is treatable.
Depression and suicide in youth
Left untreated, depression can lead some youth to take their
own lives. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 - 24
year olds and the sixth leading cause of death for 5 - to - 14
year olds. Attempted suicides are even more common. By recognizing
the signs of depression and suicide and seeking help for a young
person, you can save a life.
Four out of five teens that attempt suicide give clear
warnings. If you suspect that a child or adolescent is suicidal,
look for these signs:
- Threats of suicide - either direct or indirect
- Verbal hints such as "I won't be around much
longer" or "It's hopeless."
- Putting affairs in order (for example, giving or throwing
away favorite possessions)
- Sudden cheerfulness after a period of depression
- Hallucinations or bizarre thoughts.
Ask the child or teen if he or she feels depressed or thinks
about suicide or death. Speaking openly and honestly allows the
child to confide in you and gives you a chance to express your
concern. Listen to his or her thoughts and feelings in a caring
and respectful manner.
Let the child or teen know that you care and want to help.
Supply the child or teen with local resources, such as a crisis
hotline or the location of a mental health clinic. If the child or
teen is a student, find out if there are any available mental
health professionals at the school and let the child know about
Seek professional help. It is essential to seek expert advice
from a mental health professional that has experience helping
depressed children and teens.
Alert key adults in the child's life - family, friends,
teachers. Inform the child's parent or primary caregivers, and recommend
that they seek professional assistance for their child or teen.
Trust your instincts. If you think the situation may be serious
seek immediate help. If necessary, break a confidence in order save
Mental Health America - www.mentalhealthamerica.net
1-800-273-TALK. This will connect you with a crisis center in your
Covenant House Nin Line - 800-999-9999. This is a 24- hour teen
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - www.aacap.org
American Association of Suicidology - www.suicidology.org
Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network - www.spanusa.org
Depression can be successfully treated more than 80 percent of
the time. (NIMH, 2001)
Thirty-four percent of people with schizophrenia in one study
experienced full recovery in psychiatric states and social
functioning. (National Empowerment Center, 2000)
Up to 20 percent of older adults have significant symptoms of
Abut 11 percent of adults over age 55 have an anxiety disorder
and 0.6 percent have schizophrenia. (USSG,1999)
men account for 83 percent of suicides by people over age 65.