Family We have thirty years of experience in family and relationship therapy. We teach healthy parenting skills especially with difficult adolescents and young adults. We help families deal with addiction as well as depression and anxiety that affect the family system
DEPRESSION IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS
Childhood and adolescent depression is more common than parents realize, because the signs and signals of depression in children and adolescents are often different than those of adults. These signs can be confused with the natural developmental changes that are indicative of adolescence.
Dr. Paul Standal is experienced in assessment and treatment of child and adolescent depression. Generally speaking, he does not recommend medication unless your child’s symptoms warrant it as he has found that therapy alone can help significantly with adolescent symptoms, unless self-harm becomes an issue.
The following are some signs of a mood problem, though these are relative since they may also be present in the natural stage of development in children and adolescents:
• Adolescents do exhibit many of the same signs that adults have, like unexplained sadness or crying, and sometimes feelings of hopelessness. It is very common for children to have tantrums and adolescents to show irritability and oversensitivity with angry outbursts. They can also exhibit less interest in friends and other enjoyable activities and very commonly isolate themselves in their room, avoiding family contact. They have increased physical symptoms, illnesses, headaches and intestinal problems. Problems with school increase with poor performance and attendance with trouble concentrating. Adolescents, especially, become very sensitive to perceived rejection or failure with increased self-deprecations. It is common for them to run away or attempt to do so. Most alarming, however, may be increased thoughts of or talking about death, suicide or self-destructive behaviors. These may be accompanied by a fascination or addiction to playing violent or destructive video games.
• Family stress, including divorce, substance abuse, mental illness or physical illness in the family, is often a trigger for childhood or adolescent depression. Often, hidden physical or sexual abuse or school bullying can precipitate severe depression.
Sometimes you have to trust your intuition, and, if you’re feeling that your kid’s behavior or mood seems unusual, it is important to openly check it out or have it checked out by Dr. Standal. Depression in children is relatively uncommon, but five to ten percent of preteens and adolescents do show signs of depression. It is important to be proactive but not unduly anxious in this situation, because there is good treatment available.
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