Depression screening now part of pediatric checkup

The new guidelines are to help pediatricians identify depression early

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – For the first time ever, new guideline issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics calls for children 12 and older to be screened for depression.

The new guidelines are to help pediatricians identify depression early. Research shows that by age 20, nearly 20 percent of teens have experienced depression in some form.

Doctors say it can affect them long-term, lead to trouble at school, social and family problems, as well as substance abuse.

If you’re a parent, some of the symptoms you want to watch out for in your children are changes in mood and behavior and changes in their day to day functioning such as sleep and eating habits and being withdrawn from their friends.

Children with depression may display these symptoms:

  • Depressed or irritable mood
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school
  • Change in eating habits
  • Feeling angry or irritable
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling worthless or restless
  • Frequent sadness or crying
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities
  • Loss of energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Jamie Miller is Clinical Director at Alta Behavioral Healthcare, he says there are several things parents should be doing to help their children.

“I think you have to talk to them. Have to watch what they are doing, communicate every day, and I think that in our world today where everyone is so busy, that we are all so separate and moving in different places that for me just to take time to be with your kids, to talk to them, to listen to them,” Miller said.

Doctors also say its important to keep a close eye on at-risk children, which could mean those with a family history of depression and other mental health issues or children who have already had an episode of depression.

Doctors say symptoms of depression can vary among younger people and it’s important for parents to know the signs.