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Depressed Kid? Here's What to Do

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New research says depression is the number-two mental health problem among kids. Here's what to watch for.

Depressed kid

According to the World Health Organization:

• Depression is the second most common childhood mental health problem.
• One in 33 kids is depressed.
• The number of kids diagnosed with the disorder could double by the year 2020.

Scary, huh?

Even scarier is that less than a quarter of the 12 million kids in the United States who suffer from mental disorders receive treatment, which makes them more prone to lower grades, drug and alcohol abuse and criminal behavior. Kids with untreated depression are also 12 times more likely to commit suicide.

Many parents don't seek help because they fear their kids will be stamped with the "mentally ill" label, while other parents dismiss their child's behavior as a phase.

How can you tell the difference between a kid who's moody and one with a mental disorder?

Here are three signs your kid is depressed, says child psychologist Fran Walfish:

Change in eating or sleeping patterns: Taking more naps, not sleeping enough, going on eating binges, starvation diets -- all are red flags.

Spending more time alone: If your talkative tween has turned into a hermit (i.e.: friends stop calling, hanging out in their room too much), it could be a sign they are withdrawing from the world.

Moodiness: Moping around the house, listening to sad music, or saying, "Life sucks" are all warning signs. This may sound like your typical tween, but Walfish urges parents to take any verbal statement seriously, and be on the lookout for signs your kid feels life is hopeless.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
claire September 17, 2008, 5:03 PM

I was diagnosed with various mental disorders when I was the age of 5. Now most parents would think that it was just a phase. But as I gew up I started noticing that I lived a different life as a child. Constantly going to therepy or the doctors office to recieve different medications for my disorders.
Now to read this post at the age I am today is quite suprizing. I’ve heard of the sucidal thoughts, the isolating and the hating of the world.
I was one of those kids. But now that I am 22 years old. I see the world as a different place. Yes I still need my medication and I will always need it. I just look at it as a way of life.

gordon January 14, 2009, 5:26 PM

i am ten and depressed my parents think it is me and i am never social hardly eat cant sleep and afraid to call any help
how do i tell my parents this.

Depressed Kid's Mom January 18, 2009, 8:57 PM

For Gorden,

Keep on telling your parents how you feel. If they still don’t get it, ask your doctor, school counselor, a teacher, or any other adult you trust for help. And if at any time your feel like hurting yourself really bad, or that you want to kill yourself, CALL 911, okay? THAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT!

Now, show your parents this post, so I can tell them that depression in children is serious, and that children your age are committing suicide and other harmful acts against themselves in record numbers every day. And, that if your parents are simply unsure what to do or are afraid how much treatment may cost, they need to talk to a doctor or any medical professional for assistance right away, and and all the rescources they need will be easily made available to them to help get started, including financial assistance.

Okay, Gordon? I hope your parents read that. And Good Luck Sweetheart! You’re definitely not alone.

Mom of Depressed Kid

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