By Briana Davis, Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc.
SAN ANTONIO - Depression is a serious mood disorder affecting the quality of life for millions of individuals in the U.S. Originally deemed an adult disorder; experts have now recognized that children and adolescents are also susceptible to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). It is estimated that nearly five percent of children and adolescents in the general population suffer from serious depression at any given time.
Depression in both children and adults alike is still not widely understood. Most experts agree that it is linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be exacerbated by various genetic or environmental factors such as stressful life events. Certain medications may also increase the risk of depression.Childhood depression
is often overlooked, and symptoms may persist for weeks, months or even years, if left untreated. Many children do not receive the treatment they need and experience a wide range of symptoms such as general sadness or boredom, weight fluctuations, sleep disturbances, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, poor school performance, lack of concentration or frequent thoughts of death or suicide.
In younger children, symptoms of depression may not be as obvious and sometimes manifest through physical ailments such as frequent stomachaches or headaches. Younger children may also appear to lack energy and become withdrawn from friends or family members.
Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to the long term mental health of a depressed child or adolescent. Parents of youth who are experiencing signs of depression should seek the guidance of a mental health professional that specializes in treating children and adolescents. An in-depth clinical evaluation and physical exam must be done in order to rule out other possible medical conditions that mimic symptoms of depression.
Once diagnosed, there are many potential avenues of treatment. In general, most clinicians will advocate education and counseling as a first step to treatment. Very depressed children may also require medication to manage their symptoms. A combination of education, counseling and medication is often the best way to fully treat a major depressive episode.
The treating physician may also recommend lifestyle changes which have been shown to ease depression symptoms. Regular physical exercise combined with a low-fat, nutrient dense diet with an established sleeping routine may help with depression.
Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc. is currently conducting a research study for boys and girls 7-17 years of age, testing the safety and effectiveness of an investigational medication for childhood depression
. This investigational medication is currently approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to treat depression in adults. If you would like to learn more about this study, please call 210-949-0122 or visit us at SAresearch.com
. A stipend to cover the cost of time and travel is being offered to study participants.