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Information Resources Management Association. Essentials of Nursing Practice. Catherine Delves-Yates. Practice Matters. Andrew Willis. Feel the Pull. Gen Guanci. In my experience, teens experience depression for much longer than their parents are aware. In fact, feeling like things are your fault is one of the symptoms of depression. We are lucky if a teen tells their parent they are feeling depressed or a parent sees warning signs and brings their child for an evaluation, because the depression is likely far more severe than the parent realizes.
In my experience, many children who attempt suicide never have been evaluated or treated for depression before. After a child attempts suicide and a parent starts to understand and learn about depression, most parents are willing to do anything to help their child. This is incredibly hurtful to teens who ask for treatment and the message they get is their suffering is not important enough to treat. Depression and its worst risk, suicide, are serious and common problems in children and teens. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in U. In addition to deaths by suicide, depression can cause progressively worsening brain changes , according to new research.
And yet, even after a trained mental health professional diagnoses a child with depression, some parents refuse treatment. This can occur despite these teens wanting and asking for treatment. Some do not want their children to take antidepressants.
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Antidepressants carry the FDA black-box label warning on thoughts of suicide in young people. But the consensus in the field is that benefits outweigh risks with careful monitoring. There are some exceptions, but in most cases, a child cannot get treatment on their own. One possible way to overcome this is to view a deliberate lack of providing treatment for depression as a form of child abuse. Another way for neglect to occur is to ignore obvious signs of illness. While these criteria are usually applied to chronic physical illnesses like HIV or asthma, it appears to be rarely applied to mental illnesses.
But that was not the answer I got with one teen with depression and multiple suicide attempts. The law in Florida , where I teach and practice, is that only when children reach age 18 years can they consent to treating their own depression with medication or with ongoing therapy. Depression is hard to diagnose because it is not always obvious. Once a professional does make the diagnosis, and if severe enough, why are we allowed to let it go untreated? When we — children, parents and physicians — view depression like other illnesses, more people will be helped.
We as physicians should be working to prevent neglect from occurring by talking to parents about depression and treatment, providing education and addressing their concerns.