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Children and Depression

Depression in the Young: What We Can Do to Help Them
Depression in the Young
What We Can Do to Help Them

Why are we so blind to childhood depression ?

Depression in children
does not always look like depression in adults.

If we use only the list of adult symptoms,
we will miss the vast majority of children and adolescents
suffering from depression.
  • Based on the wrenching and unexpected suicide death of her son, Ben, at age fourteen, Minnesota author and lecturer Trudy Carlson discusses depressive illness in young people and explains aspects of available treatments for each.

by Trudy Carlson


172 Pages

Pub 1/98

Author's Site
  • Well organized, thoroughly researched, and conversationally written, Carlson's frank, explicit guide through illness, treatment, medication, and psychotherapies is designed with the layman in mind.
  • Based on personal experience chronicled in the second half of her earlier work, THE SUICIDE OF MY SON, Carlson's latest book contains detailed chapters dedicated to the recognition and treatment of depressive illness in the young, as well as their effects on the family, friends, classmates, and physicians involved with the sufferer.
  • Direct and personal, written from the heart of someone who has been there, Carlson's forthright book is recommended reading as a helpful, hopeful guide through the traumatic maze of childhood depression and treatment.


Why are we so blind to childhood depression? McKnew, Cytryn and Yahraes (1983) give us their opinion:

Perhaps the biggest reason is that many depressed children are often the 'nicest' boys and girls on the block and the best behaved kids in school.

Go into a classroom and you'll find that the kids in the back rows are the quiet ones, the ones that don't give anyone any trouble, though we know now that many of them are depressed . . . Unless you know a depressed child quite well and are really looking for signs of depression, you probably won't notice anything wrong.

Depression in children does not always look like depression in adults. Depression in youngsters and adults is fundamentally the same illness, but depressed young people rarely have long, sad faces. They frequently have beautiful wide smiles, trying hard not to be a burden to others, attempting to make the best of their painful lives. If we use only the list of adult symptoms, we will miss the vast majority of children and adolescents suffering from depression.

Copyright © 1998 by Trudy Carlson.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction:
If You're so Smart, How Come Your Son is Dead?

Chapter 2 Depression in perspective:
Incidence of depression
Historical perspective
Types of depressive illness
dysthymia - chronic low mood
seasonal depression
reactive depression
recurring unipolar depression
bipolar illness
Multiplicity of depressive conditions

Chapter 3 The Symptoms of Depression in the Young:
Symptoms in Childhood
persistent sadness
low self-concept
provocative, aggressive behavior
proneness to be disappointed easily
physical complaints
inability to concentrate
energy fluctuations
eating problems
bladder and bowel problems
excessive fearfulness
A Perspective on childhood depression
Adolescent depression
anxiety and alcohol/drug use
disappointments in love
personality factors
a goal

Chapter 4 What's To Be Done:
Cognitive Therapy
all-or-nothing thinking
mental filter
disqualifying the positive
jumping to conclusions
mind reading
the fortune teller error
magnification and minimization
emotional reasoning
"should" statements
labeling and mislabeling
Implications and application of cognitive therapy
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Cognitive Therapy and IPT: A useful class for helping today's problems

Chapter 5 Anxiety and Suicide Prevention:
Non-medication treatment for anxiety
information on the biological nature of anxiety
teaching breathing techniques
teaching the use of visualization
teaching the use of affirmations
teaching that alcohol and drug abuse are ineffective means of self-treating anxiety
The use of prescription drugs for anxiety

Chapter 6 Medication:
the story behind the discovery
lithium for young patients
the use of lithium as a maintenance
medication for bipolar illness
the use of medications for acute episodes of mania or depression
the importance of continuing maintenance medicines for bipolar clients
new findings regarding the medicines for bipolar illness
why is it so important to treat persons with bipolar illness
maintenance medication for recurring unipolar depression
Tricyclic antidepressants
The story behind the discovery
The use of tricyclic medication
MAO inhibitors
The story behind the discovery
The use of MAO inhibitors
The story behind their development
Some facts about SSRIs
Some specifics about Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Effexor
Rational for caution
A personal comment regarding Prozac
The fourth class - Wellbutrin
The use for students with ADHD
The use for adults
A personal comment on Wellbutrin
New vs old medications

Chapter 7 Suicide:
Suicide in the young
Children at risk
Adolescents at risk
Attempters vs completers
What are young attempters or completers trying to do?
Prevention programs in the past
Warning signs
previous suicide attempts
suicide talk
Chapter 14 Suicide (continued)
making arrangements
personality or behavioral change
clinical depression
The use of warning signs
The need for screening
A no-blame approach
Is reduction of the suicide rate an attainable goal?

Chapter 8
When Everything You've Tried Seems Like Failure

Appendix 1
I. Screening instrument for Fourth - Sixth Grade
II Recommended curriculum for 7th - 12th Grade

A. General Recommendation for Parents, Teachers and Health Professionals
B. Special Information for Health Professionals

Appendix 2
A. Works Cited
B. Further References


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