The statistics on childhood depression are very disturbing. Childhood depression is going up in numbers quite dramatically. In fact, Harvard Medical Center studies say that it is rising by a rate of about 20 percent per year. That means that every twenty years, childhood depression rates are nearly doubling.
In the United States alone, more than one third of children are or have been affected by depression and that includes children under the ages of six years. The most rapidly growing medication market for preschool children is antidepressant medication. The British Medical Journal however found that antidepressants may not work for children of that age, or in fact for anyone under the age of 18 years of age, and may even lead to suicide in young people.
Depression is growing by leaps and bounds. These statistics on childhood depression are not only fitting for the United States but also for other countries such as Great Britain and Australia, where suicide is now the most common cause of death in teenagers. According to the FDA, the use of antidepressant medication may lead to suicide or suicidal thoughts in those under the age of 18.
Some of the factors that we can point to which cause teenage or childhood depression are child abuse, which is currently running to epidemic proportions in countries all around the globe. While many blame the economy for making parents more stressed and more likely to behave abusively, the reality is that we're only just now coming to terms with real facts and figures on child abuse and childhood depression. Far more than physical abuse, subtle emotional abuse and constant criticism tends to lead to deep depression in children too. This type of abuse seems to lend itself well to creating a subtle depression and anger in children that is not easily tamed.
Our statistics, sadly, are not as well known as one might think. Until only recently, we had no real data on childhood or teen depression. Studies had not even begun on younger children until the early portion of 1990 because it was assumed that children simply didn't suffer from depression. They had minimal symptoms of the condition and certainly not the symptoms seen in older children or adult victims of the condition.
Many more children these days are experiencing events that may lead to depression, such as injuries, divorce in the family, serious illness and other conditions that may lead them to become depressed. Their symptoms are not as often obvious as those of older children and may be overlooked in many cases. Even very young children, as youthful as 3 or 4 may experience depression.
The FDA also warns that some medications, such as those given for ADHD, another much over-prescribed illness in recent years, is often to blame for depression which takes place many years after the medication has been administered.
In conclusion, the statistics on childhood depression is alarming but we can help to improve this by identifying the warning signs and reaching out to get the person professional help as soon as possible.