In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Does your child have the mid-winter blues?

Posted by Dr. Susan on January 4, 2012

At this time of year kids and teens may be susceptible to the winter blues, which, in its more serious form, is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD usually occurs during the winter months, when it is colder and there is less sunlight, although, one does not have to live in a freezing, snowy climate to experience seasonal depression. Those living in milder climates may also experience the blues.

It is important to learn the symptoms of depression in children so you can recognize them, and if necessary, address them immediately. All types of depression are more common in older children and teens, but it is possible for a younger child to experience SAD, especially with a family history of depression. Therefore, if your child’s behavior seems to change with the season, it is time to take notice.

Childhood depression often looks different from the adult type. Even very sad kids will appear happy sometimes—during a funny movie, or playing with friends, but it doesn’t mean they are fine. Children typically have mood fluctuations, even if they are depressed.

The most common symptoms of SAD (and childhood depression) include:

  • Feeling sad, overly sensitive or      crying excessively
  • Anger, crankiness, moodiness
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping      more than usual
  • Eating much more or less than      usual (for an extended period of time, not just a day or two)
  • Low energy level, difficulty      concentrating
  • Reduced interest in normal activities      at home, in school and socially
  • Stomachaches, headaches or other      physical complaints that don’t respond to medical treatment
  • Thoughts of death or suicide      (not as common in young children)

 

Not every depressed or sad child will exhibit every symptom; some may have only two or three. If you think that your child has the winter blues, take these five steps:

  1. Continue to observe. Watch your child’s behavior for a week or so. Then,      if you still see symptoms and feel that he is emotionally under the weather,      move to step #2.
  2. Talk to your child. Ask how she is feeling. Inquire about possible      school and friend stressors. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—you won’t “give      your child ideas”  that she doesn’t      already have. If there is no significant stressor, but she still seems      unhappy, move to step #3.
  3. Talk to the teacher. In most cases, when a child has the blues, his      behavior will change everywhere, not just at home, so the teacher is sure      to notice any mood change too. If the teacher (and other significant adults      in your child’s life), confirms your concerns, move to step #4
  4. Meet with your child’s doctor. It is important to rule out      medical factors that may cause a child’s mood to change. For example,      either mononucleosis or hypothyroidism can cause low energy level or      trouble concentrating. After ruling out medical factors, you and the      doctor can decide the next step. If the doctor recommends that you speak      with a mental health professional, do so right away. See step #5.
  5. Seek expert help. If treatment is necessary, it will vary depending on      the severity of your child’s symptoms and her age. No one child is the      same and there are several treatment options, including light therapy,      increased natural light exposure, talk therapy or medication.
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Even teens who THINK they’re overweight are at risk for suicide!

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 19, 2009

A huge study,  published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, finds that both BOYS and GIRLS who either are, or think they are overweight, are more likely to attempt suicide. This tells us two things:

1. We need to develop better social, school and peer supports for overweight kids and teens as well as those who have poor body images and don’t need to lose weight.

2. We need to become more effective at helping those kids who need to lose weight do so.

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Stay Healthy after losing your job

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 5, 2009

Losing your job might be the toughest experience you’ve ever had and you’re likely to want to climb into bed, eat junk food and watch TV! But, this won’t help you find another job. In fact, staying healthy will not only keep your body looking and feeling good–it will help you at interviews, by keeping your mind sharper too. Check out this article for some easy, inexpensive, practical tips to keep yourself from getting into a big slump!

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TV time in teens linked to depression…interesting

Posted by Dr. Susan on February 9, 2009

Does your child watch a lot of TV? If so, here’s yes ANOTHER compelling reason to make a change! This new study finds that the more TV teens watch (especially boys), the more likely they are to become depressed as young adults. The researchers theorize that watching TV isolates kids, which makes them less likely to interact with peers–having a strong social network innoculates one against depression; or play sports–physical activity has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression.

However, you can’t suddenly tell your teen to stop watching TV, you need to set the rules when your child is young and stick with them all the way through, beginning with no TV in bedrooms!

What’s more–if YOU are depressed, the same rules apply to you: TV isn’t helping you feel better. So turn it  off and get out…talk to your friends and go for a walk. Even better…go for a walk with your friends!

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REALLY underage drinking…

Posted by Dr. Susan on October 25, 2008

Some parents have come to accept that their child will experiment with alcohol–and even perhaps drugs–in college, or even the upper high school grades. They hope that it won’t be serious, but they are realistic in recognizing that very few teens abstain completely.  However, this powerful and important study demonstrates that kids who drink or use drugs before they are fifteen-years old, are at much higher risk for substance dependence, sexually transmitted diseases, dropping out of school or acquiring criminal records in adulthood. Also, please note that a full fifty-percent of these kids had NO prior behavior problems!

The take home message: drinking or drugs and teens not a good combination. Be clear about your message of disapproval. Research clearly shows that parents who give their kids a clear message that they will not tolerate drinking or drugs are more likely to have kids that don’t use–especially at a younger age.

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cutting research-sort of…

Posted by Dr. Susan on March 11, 2008

A newly reported study about cutting looks at the relationship between girls who cut, their serotonin levels and their relationships with their mothers. I VERY reluctantly provide this link to the Science Times which, in such unbelievably irresponsible reporting, in it’s headline, makes it seem as if it is primarily a poor mother-daughter relationship that leads a girl to cut. Thankfully, in the body of the article this is cleared up–in fact, the relationship between cutting and serotonin levels is stronger than that between cutting and a conflictual mom-daughter relationships. The combined relationship is the strongest.  Okay this makes sense. What isn’t explained, at least in the Science Times, is whether the girls had high serotonin levels before they began cutting (i.e.–they were predisposed to becoming cutters) or whether the cutting behavior changed their serotonin. Do the researchers know this? Next, I treat cutters–lots of cutters, so I know that their are MANY things that stress a cutter out, not just their relationship with their mothers. Yes, this can be a factor, but these researchers could just have easily studied dads, boyfriends, biology teachers, waking up early for school, finding the perfect outfit to wear…it’s possible that any of these, when combined with a teen biologically predisposed to cutting, could significantly increase the odds of her becoming a cutter or triggering an episode. Last, but not least, being a cutter does NOT make you suicidal. In fact, the vast majority of cutters do so to reduce their anxiety, depresssion or other emotional pain, sometimes to help themselves avoid becoming suicidal. This is part of why it is addictive. Other than this…not such a bad article, uh yeah.

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depression is dangerous!

Posted by Dr. Susan on March 5, 2008

A new study shows that depressed and anxious people are more likely to be obese, and to smoke and drink heavily. I hope they didn’t spend a lot of money on this study because I, and any good clinician could have told them this years ago! What particularly infuriates me about this research is that it declares that given this data we should now pay attention to depression and anxiety in a whole new light. You mean before this did these researchers really think that those treating depressed people weren’t helping them with related issues like emotional eating, alcoholism and other addictions. Research like this is a waste of time and money in my opinion and perhaps these scientists need to get into the real world for at least a short while.

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