Discussions regarding childhood depression is a recent phenomenon. Prior to the early 1990’s, depression among children under 13 years of age was thought to be moodiness and part of their development.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) reports 5% of children suffer from depression. It is referred to as an equal opportunity malady. Depression affects children of every race, ethnic group, socioeconomic status and gender. According to the AACAP, less than 20% of children are ever diagnosed as depressed. However, those who are diagnosed only 30% of these children receive treatment. The majority of children continue to be untreated through their adolescent years until these persons commit serious crimes or become victims of attempted suicide or succeed at self-destruction.
Those who work directly with pre-adolescent children are finding that depression seems to run in families. Nothing thus far in the literature suggests a medium or high relationship for a genetic relationship, however, it is becoming clear that families with a history of depression are more likely to display this problem.
Children affected with chronic illnesses, persistent family problems, abuse, violence, single parents, non-supportive parents, personal loss, poverty are highly likely to feel helpless, hopeless, and fear are the core variables associated with depression.
Gender has been found to have some effect upon prevalence of depression among children. Girls have been found to exhibit more symptoms of depression than boys in their childhoods. Due to a lack of diagnosis, these girls are more likely to carry symptoms into adulthood. What is said to be female or girl moodiness are actually symptoms of depression. Some in child development, the psychological and psychiatric communities report the absence of a girl’s father is a contributing in her depression.
Undiagnosed depression in both boys and girls can have adverse consequences throughout the affected person’s life. Practitioners and researchers have determined that adults suffering from significant depression as children but were never diagnosed and treated are much more likely to have problems in school and drop out, family problems; relational problems; be unemployed more frequently or be under employed.
In the next article pertaining to childhood depression, strategies for identifying childhood depression and recommendations for seeking and identifying help and assistance will be examined.