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Depression in Children

Over the last two decades we have learned more about the prevalence of childhood depression.

Children suffering from depression may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, be especially clingy to a parent, or may have unfounded worries (e.g., their parent(s) may die).

Older children may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative, grouchy, and feel misunderstood. Because normal behaviors vary from one childhood stage to another, it can be difficult to tell whether a child is just going through a temporary phase or is suffering from depression. If a visit to the child's pediatrician rules out physical symptoms, the doctor might suggest that the child be evaluated by a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of children or seek therapy from a mental health professional.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has identified the use of medications for depression in children as an important area for research. Among the medications being studied are antidepressants, some of which have been found to be effective in treating children with depression, if properly monitored by the child's physician. An alternate, and noninvasive, form of treatment that has been found to be effective in the treatment of childhood depression is neurofeedback.

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