Adolescent Psychology | Depressed Children?

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 By

Is this really happening?

Is he a depressed child, or merely a child? (Photo: flickr.com)

Is he a depressed child, or merely a child? (Photo: flickr.com)

The more we study the workings of the human brain, the more we realize how little we truly understand of the marvelous control center that governs who we are and how we function. It used to be that when young children had trouble and acted out in school, we called it a “phase.” Today, too many educators and parents are eager to jump on the medication bandwagon. Sure, with the current state of health insurance in this country, that might mean that an installment loan or two would be necessary for some caregivers to fund the alteration of children’s minds with psychotropic drugs. Adolescent psychology means “give them a pill so they aren’t a bother” to far too many people.

I don’t buy it in most cases, however. I’ve never been one to be content with writing off problems with pat answers or easy solutions, particularly when children are involved. I believe that the hyper-fragmentation of modern America (with all the devices and media outlets competing for our attention) have made us more effective as rote information machines and much less effective as patient, empathetic human beings.

Love requires patience and empathy

Unfortunately, our children aren’t being taught enough of either. Since preschool-aged kids are not equipped to rationalize their way through deep feelings, the psychological stress is vented in acts of anger, increased reliance upon imaginary friends (many adults still do that, which works well for organized religion) and withdrawal from activities and peer groups. There are many variations in between these states as well. Pharmaceutical and health insurance industries are always looking for the next big thing to send their profits soaring (such as drumming up false scare stories about Obamacare), so is it any surprise that the jump to diagnose, treat and medicate depressed preschoolers has darkened the door of adolescent and pre-adolescent psychology?

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on a multinational study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry that states that nearly 15 percent of preschool students experience “abnormally high levels of depression and anxiety, and a difficult temperament at five months of age is the most important early warning.” Furthermore, “highly strung or tense four and five-year-olds are also more likely to have mothers with a history of depression than children who are not anxious or depressed.”

Difficult temperament at five months?

Parents, inside-the-box thinking keeps you from seeing what your kids really need – YOU! (Photo: flickr.com)

Parents, inside-the-box thinking keeps you from seeing what your kids really need – YOU! (Photo: flickr.com)

I recognize that extreme cases can and do occur. But in general, this disease after the fact mentality smacks of crass commercialism on the part of the drug companies. And they’re having their way, as the past 15 years has shown a large increase in the use of psychotropic drugs to treat young children. About the only thing that makes total sense to me from the previous paragraph is that depressed mothers will have a detrimental effect upon their children. Mine did, and I struggled with it mightily. I still do. Give me an installment loan and I’ll tell you the tale. Please remember to cry into your beer when appropriate.

I do not believe in a fundamental, metaphysical evil. Greed, self-centeredness and sociopathic reasoning as to the value of life are the closest things we’ve got, and there’s nothing mystical about those. Greed certainly is a motivator when researchers come forward with claims that depression and anxiety are detectable in infants. The one needle in a haystack aside, infants and youths need parental love to help them regulate feelings they do not understand. If parents cannot or will not offer this, they should be sterilized and the children should go to people more adept wielding their humanity.

Don’t tell me my infant needs therapy and drugs!

I refuse to buy into your terror campaign, pharmaceutical companies (and the researchers who receive money from you). If a child obviously has problems, a parent’s instincts should be the guide. If a child is truly struggling, a loving parent will not ignore it in lieu of another episode of “So You Think You Can Dance,” a trip to the bar or the latest Tweets.

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Lead study author Sylvana Cote from the University of Montreal says that “As early as the first year of life, there are indications that some children have more risks than others to develop high levels of depression and anxiety.” I agree that sometimes special intervention is needed. But does this apply to 15 percent of preschoolers? And are these preschoolers each applying for an installment loan to help fund self-medicating, self-destructive behaviors like mom and dad? No, but you can by clicking the button if you need to.

As a whole, the horror stories are ridiculous. If I wanted sensationalism, I would have gone to church or turned on the news. Intellectual dishonesty is rife no matter which one you choose.

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