DESCRIPTIONDepression is a feeling of continuing sadness, despondency, or hopelessness. The central nervous system is involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care for mild depression.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications (sometimes).
Psychotherapy or counseling.
Hospitalization for severe depression.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSLoss of interest in life, or boredom.
Listlessness and fatigue.
Insomnia or excessive sleeping.
Appetite loss or overeating.
Unexplained crying bouts.
Intense guilt feelings over minor or imaginary misdeeds.
Difficulty making decisions.
Various pains, such as headache or chest pain, without evidence of disease.
CAUSESFailure in school, work, or interpersonal relationships.
Death of a loved one.
Loss of something important (school, home, pet).
School or job change or move to a new area.
Disfiguring accident or surgery.
Major illness or disability.
Passing from one life stage to another, such as puberty or adolescence.
Use of some drugs, such as reserpine, beta-adrenergic blockers or benzodiazepines.
Withdrawal from mood-altering drugs, such as narcotics, amphetamines, or caffeine.
Some diseases, including diabetes mellitus, and hormonal abnormalities.
Unexpressed anger or other emotion; compulsive, rigid, perfectionist, or highly dependent personalities; family history of depression; alcoholism.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Maintain good communication with your child.
Raise children with love and reasonable expectations in school and home.
MEDICAL TESTSYour own observation of symptoms; medical history and physical exam by a doctor (sometimes a psychiatrist); psychological testing.
Suicide. Warning signs to look for in your child include: withdrawal from family and friends; neglect of personal appearance; mention of wanting "to end it all" or being "a burden to others"; evidence of a suicide plan, such as buying or cleaning a gun or giving away possessions.
Hallucinations or psychotic behavior.
Manic behavior, characterized by inappropriate overactivity and comic or irresponsible behavior.
Spontaneous recovery in many cases, but professional help can shorten the duration and help your child learn to cope in the future. Recurrence is common. The recovery rate is high, despite one's pessimism while depressed.
Seek support groups or therapy for your child and your family. Contact social agencies or churches for help.
Call your local suicide-prevention hot line if you think your child might be feeling suicidal.
Your doctor may prescribe: antidepressant drugs (often tricyclics) to accompany therapy; lithium for alternating mania and depression.
No restrictions. Encourage your child to maintain daily activities and interests -- even if there is no enthusiam present. Encourage your child to attend school and social functions, concerts, athletic events, plays, and movies and to keep in touch with friends and loved ones. Your child will benefit from regular, strenuous exercise, which helps relieve depression.
DIET & FLUIDS
Encourage your child to eat a normal, well-balanced diet -- even if there is no appetite. Vitamin and mineral supplements may be necessary.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of depression.
You think that your child feels suicidal or hopeless.