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Depression in children.
Depression is a difficult disease to diagnose and treat in children. It is estimated that up to 15 percent of children are depressed with equal risk in young boys and girls. However, it is twice as common in teen girls as in boys. Depressive symptoms may not present with the classic symptoms of sadness, crying spells and mood swings. In children it may be a change in behavior like getting into trouble at school, falling grades or withdrawal from usual activities. The child may experience weight loss or weight gain and a change in sleeping habits. These changes are more pronounced than expected and last longer than two weeks.
Children may be at a higher risk for depression when there is a family history of it, with the loss of a loved one and those who experience neglect or abuse. It is also important to be sure there are no medical causes for the behavior change such as medication side effects or problems, which can be detected by blood work like diabetes or anemia.
When depression is suspected in a child, it is essential to listen and communicate concerns and goals in treatment. Comments regarding suicide, hopelessness and death have to be taken seriously to ensure safety of the child.
It is important for the child and parent to feel comfortable with the treatments that are chosen. Traditional treatment options include counseling, cognitive behavior therapy and medications. In children, conventional medications are not well-studied and only Prozac is FDA approved for use in children 8yrs old and up. Many drugs like Prozac work to increase serotonin levels since low levels of serotonin contribute to ensitivity to insulin, helping it work better to control blood sugars. Eating a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, meats and milk products should provide sufficient chromium.
The B vitamins sdepression. However, the medication side effects may stop children from taking it so another option may be 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). 5-HTP is an amino acid that is converted into serotonin and may be found in dairy, eggs, chicken, soy, tofu and nuts.
Focusing on nutrition may also help with depressive symptoms since the brain depends on an even supply of sugar. Fluctuating blood sugars may cause the child to be irritable, to have poor sleep and to feel fatigued. In order to keep blood sugars level, it is important with each meal or snack to eat some protein with carbohydrates and try to stick with low glycemic index food. Chromium may also help with sugar control. It increases the body's such as folate, B12 and B6 are important in helping to control both the production and balance of neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation. Eating omega-3 rich fats found in salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel may also help with depression.
There is some truth in the saying vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin and improves your mood. Light therapy, or getting sunshine, helps increase serotonin levels. Exercising and reducing stress is another way to raise serotonin levels.
Source - Bhatia
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