Diagnosing and Treating Children and Adolescents
Suffering with Depression
Abnormal Psychology PSY2010
Early treatment and intervention can significantly decrease the severity of mental illness. This is why effectively diagnosing children and adolescents with depression is vital. The diagnostic criterion for depression is the same for adults as it is for children and adolescents. The emotional and physiological symptoms of depression include sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, insomnia or hypersomnia, appetite disturbances, psychomotor retardation, fatigue, loss of energy and catatonia. Cognitive symptoms of depression include poor concentration, worthlessness, guilt, poor self esteem, indecisiveness, hopelessness, and in severe cases, suicidal thoughts, delusions, and hallucinations with depressing themes. The difficulty in applying this criterion to children and adolescents lie in that the specific developmental stage of each subject effects the ways that these symptoms manifest themselves. Characteristics often seen in children and teens who are depressed are; frequent and vague complaints of headaches, stomachaches, or tiredness, poor performance or attendance in school, talk of running away from home, outbursts of shouting, complaining or crying, boredom, isolation, alcohol or substance abuse, fear of death, anger, recklessness and difficulty with relationships. Many of these characteristics may be normal in adolescents and can be attributed to hormonal changes or phases making it even more difficult to diagnose them. Methods of diagnosing children and adolescents include interviews with child and parents, behavioral observations, psychological testing, lab tests, and consultation with teachers, pediatricians and other professionals. Relying on interviews with parents can be problematic because often they are the cause of the mental disturbance. This also makes...
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