Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that may be a normal reaction to life events or circumstances, a symptom of some medical conditions, a side effect of some drugs or medical treatments, or a symptom of certain psychiatric syndromes such as the mood disorders major depressive disorder and dysthymia. Depression in childhood and adolescence may be similar to adult major depressive disorder, although young sufferers may exhibit increased irritability or aggressive and self-destructive behaviors, rather than the all-encompassing sadness associated with adult forms of depression Children who are under stress, who experience loss, or who have attentional, learning, behavioral, or anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for depression. Childhood depression is often co-morbid with mental disorders outside of the mood disorders; most commonly anxiety disorder and conduct disorder. Depression also tends to run in families. Psychologists have developed different treatments to assist children and adolescents suffering from depression, though the legitimacy of the diagnosis of childhood depression as a psychiatric disorder, as well as the efficacy of various methods of assessment and treatment, remains controversial. Base Rates and Prevalence
About 8% of children and adolescents suffer from depression. Research suggests that the prevalence of young depression sufferers in Western cultures ranges from 1.9% to 3.4% among primary school children and 3.2% to 8.9% among adolescents. Studies have also found that among children diagnosed with a depressive episode, there is a 70% rate of recurrence within five years. While there is no gender difference in depression rates up until age fifteen, after that age the rate among females doubles compared to males. However, in terms of recurrence rates and symptom severity, there is no gender difference. In an attempt to explain these findings, one theory asserts that pre-adolescent females, on average, have more risk factors for depression than males. These risk factors then combine with the typical stresses and challenges of adolescent development to trigger the onset of depression. Suicidal Intent
Like their adult counterparts, children and adolescent depression sufferers are at an increased risk of attempting or committing suicide. Adolescent males may be at an even higher risk of suicidal behavior if they also present with a conduct disorder. In the 1990s, the National Institute of Medical Health found that up to 7% of adolescents who develop major depressive disorder may commit suicide as young adults. Such statistics demonstrate the importance of interventions by family and friends, as well as the importance of early diagnosis and treatment by medical staff, to prevent suicide among depressed or at-risk youth. Risk Factor
In childhood, males and females appear to be at equal risk for depressive disorders; during adolescence, however, females are twice as likely as boys to develop depression. Children who develop major depression are more likely to have a family history of the disorder, than patients with adolescent- or adult-onset depression. Adolescents with depression are also likely to have a family history of depression, though the correlation is not as high as it is for children. Co-morbidity
Research has shown that there is a high rate of co-morbidity with depression in children with dysthymia There is also a substantial co-morbidity rate with depression in children and anxiety disorders, conduct disorder, and impaired social functioning. Conduct disorders also have a significant co-morbidity with depression in children and adolescents, with a rate of 23% in one longitudinal study. Beyond other clinical disorders, there is also an association between depression in childhood and poor psychosocial and academic outcomes, as well as a higher risk for substance abuse and suicide. Correlation between Child Depression and Adolescent Cardiac Risks...
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