Depression in Childhood and Adolescence
Until recently depression in children and adolescents had not received a great deal of attention. Increasing interest can probably be traced to a number of influences.
Promising developments in the treatment of mood disorders in adults have played a role. In addition the application of diagnostic criteria in children has greatly improved.
In everyday usage the term depression refers to the experience of sadness, or dysphoria, is also a central feature of the clinical definition of depression. Loss of the experience of pleasure, social withdrawal, lowered self-esteem, inability to concentrate, poor schoolwork, alterations of biological functions (sleeping, eating, elimination), and somatic complaints are often noted.
Prevalence rates for major depression in youngsters varies between 2 and 5 percent within a community. In a clinical population estimates would sometimes fall between10 and 20 percent. No gender differences have been reported for children ages six to twelve. Yet among adolescents depression is far more common among girls. Factors in the variations in reported rates of depression are the different criteria that are employed to define depression. Conclusions regarding correlates of depression may be affected by the criterion and informant employed to designate youngsters as depressed. There have been many assessment instruments developed to help realize depression as the problem. Assessment is likely to involve a number of strategies and would sample a broad spectrum of attributes.
Influences on the Development of Depression
Genetic influences are generally thought to play a role in depression in children and adolescents. There have been many studies done to prove that children who seem to be depressed came from parents who had a tendency to be depressed. There has not been much evidence of the truth to this matter and further tests would have to say.
Biochemistry of Depression
The study of the biochemistry of depression in adults has highlighted the role of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and acetylcholine. Research on the biological aspects of depression suggests that during the earlier developmental periods of childhood and adolescence, the neuroregulatory system is not equivalent to that in adulthood. Thus, while many workers still find evidence for a biological dysfunction in childhood depression, a translation of the adult findings would not be sufficient. Most of the characteristics of adult depression are not present with childhood depression, and vise versa.
Despite much interest, much of the thinking regarding social and psychological influences on child and adolescent depression is still based on theories derived from work with depressed adults. Probably the most common psychological explanation of depression would be separation or loss. The loss could be real, as...