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Depression in Children

The Child Advocate is devoted to children and the parents and professionals that work with them and advocate for them. Depressive Disorder often presents with irritability in children. Part of this information is presented with the permission of Christopher Petersen of The Penn State College of Medicine. The information presented at this site is for general use only and is not intended to provide personal advice or substitute for the advice of a qualified professional. If you have questions about the information presented here, please consult a physician, the resources listed or other professional in your area.

Helpful Information

Suicide and safety issues

Suicides among young people are a serious problem. Each year in the U.S., thousands of youth commit suicide.  In 2013, suicide was the second leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and a major cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds. More information and resources click...

Depression and the Childhood Depression Inventory

Depression and the Childhood Depression Inventory Presented at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2004 Annual Meeting C Petersen, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, Penn State College of Medicine; , S Mayes, Ph.D., N Vegesna, M.D., D Mauger, Ph.D. Abstract Objective:  This study on inpatient children reports on the congruence of a clinician’s DSM-IV diagnosis versus a patient-administered scale (CDI) versus the parent’s report of depression. Methods: The sample comprised 111 children, 5 to 15 years of age admitted to our child psychiatry unit. Sixty-three of the children had a DSM-IV diagnosis of depression and 48 did not. Children completed the CDI. Results: CDI scores differed significantly (p < .0001) between children with depression and children without depression. Positive and negative predictive power were high (79% and 61%). Within the depressed group, percent agreement for depression was 81% for the child psychiatrist and child, and 81% for the psychiatrist and parent. Conclusion:  The CDI is a valuable instrument in the inpatient assessment of children and is a good predictor of depressive diagnosis. See full report in PDF format Free Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 to download and read the above PDF file (If you have an earlier version please upgrade to 5.0 for...

ParentsMedGuide.org Resource

Coalition Launches ParentsMedGuide.org: “Helping Parents Help Their Kids” Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2005 Washington, D.C. – Today a large coalition of medical and family/patient advocacy organizations launched ParentsMedGuide.org, a new resource center for parents of children and adolescents with depression. A focal point of the Web site is a fact sheet called “The Use of Medication in Treating Childhood and Adolescent Depression: Information for Patients and Families” – practical advice for parents that has been endorsed by more than a dozen national organizations, including: • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry • American Psychiatric Association The guides and the site will be updated on an ongoing basis with the latest scientific and medical research. They are being launched as new data suggest the number of children receiving treatment that includes antidepressant medication continues to decline. “The evidence clearly suggests that the FDA’s action regarding the black box warning is already having a dramatic effect on prescribing patterns across the country,” said Dr. Fassler. “As a result, many children are losing access to effective and appropriate treatment.” The ParentsMedGuide.org coalition convened for the first time in November 2004 as a work group sponsored by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The Parent Guide can be found on the Web at www.parentsmedguide.org/parentsmedguide.htm. The Physician Guide is at...

FDA and Antidepressants in Children

FDA Statement on Recommendations of the Psychopharmacologic Drugs and Pediatric Advisory Committees September 16, 2004 – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generally supports the recommendations that were recently made to the agency by the Psychopharmacologic Drugs and Pediatric Advisory Committees regarding reports of an increased risk of suicidality (suicidal thoughts and actions) associated with the use of certain antidepressants in pediatric patients. FDA has begun working expeditiously to adopt new labeling to enhance the warnings associated with the use of antidepressants and to bolster the information provided to patients when these drugs are dispensed. In summary, the members of the advisory committees: endorsed FDA’s approach to classifying and analyzing the suicidal events and behaviors observed in controlled clinical trials and expressed their view that the new analyses increased their confidence in the results; concluded that the finding of an increased risk of suicidality in pediatric patients applied to all the drugs studied (Prozac, Zoloft, Remeron, Paxil, Effexor, Celexa Wellbutrin, Luvox and Serzone) in controlled clinical trials; recommended that any warning related to an increased risk of suicidality in pediatric patients should be applied to all antidepressant drugs, including those that have not been studied in controlled clinical trials in pediatric patients, since the available data are not adequate to exclude any single medication from an increased risk; reached a split decision (15-yes, 8-no) regarding recommending a “black-box” warning related to an increased risk for suicidality in pediatric patients for all antidepressant drugs; endorsed a patient information sheet (“Medication Guide”) for this class of drugs to be provided to the patient or their caregiver with every prescription; recommended that...

Depression in children warning signs

Dr. Chris Petersen, a psychiatrist at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, cited these symptoms of depression in a recent article. Symptoms of child and teen depression: Social withdrawal: A desire to remain isolated or restricted to a narrow peer group for weeks or months. Isolation from peer group: Diminishing time and interaction with a previously close group of friends. Symptoms of depression: Irritability, anger and sadness, as well as boredom in situations they would not normally consider boring. Deteriorating grades and work habits. Frequent fighting, becoming abusive. Maintaining poor personal hygiene. Abusing alcohol or drugs. Changing sleep habits and appetite. PARENTING ADVICE The National, Parenting Center at www.tnpc.com. RECOMMENDED READING From George Schmidt, psychologist with the East Pennsboro Area School District.  Both are by Anthony Wolf: “Get Out of My Life … but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the Mall- Parent’s Guide to the Teenager.” “It’s Not fair, Jeremy Spencer’s Parents Let Him Stay Up All...

Childhood Depression and Adult Obesity

Childhood Depression – Link to Adult Obesity? Waterfield Penn State College of Medicine 2004   Epidemiology 65% of Americans are considered overweight and 18% are considered obese with a body mass index (BMI)  > 30 kg m2 (Flegal 2002) 10% of Americans are thought to suffer from major depression (MDD) (Kessler 1994) 2% of Children and 4-8% of adolescents suffer from MDD (Birmaher 1998)   Adverse Health Effects of Obesity  (Must 1999) Type II Diabetes Mellitus Gallbladder disease Coronary heart disease High Blood Cholesterol Hypertension (HTN) Osteoarthritis  Obese females on average earn lower wages Obese males are less likely to marry Thought that obesity leads to depression because the social stigmatization causes embarrassment, shame, and guilt Most studies have focused on obesity causing depression and not the reverse (Stunkard 2003)   Neurobiological Link for Depression causing Obesity (Wurtman 1993) Serotonin connection – theorized that low serotonin levels in depressed patients cause them to ingest meals high in carbohydrates Carbohydrates derive their behavioral effects by increasing blood insulin.  Insulin in turn depresses the production of most large neutral amino acids except tryptophan.  Increased tryptophan causes increased serotonin in the brain and decreased depression    Serotonin Connection Overweight individuals report eating more when anxious, depressed, or alone.  Normal weight individuals do not show these behaviors. Plasma serotonin levels have been shown to be lower in obese carbohydrate cravers than obese/lean non-carbohydrate cravers.  Consumption of large carbohydrate meals in obese individuals is often associated with mood disturbances. (Wurtman 1993)     Can Childhood Depression be Linked to Obesity?   Review of Recent Literature   Study #1 Pine et al (2001) studied children...

Medicating Children with Psychiatric Drugs

Published Online Tue, 18 Jan 2011 20:00:00, To the Best of My Knowledge at WPSU Public Broadcasting, Penn State University Penn State President Graham Spanier’s monthly call-in program featured this program on medication involving children.  “Both the number of children diagnosed with psychiatric disorders and the number receiving medications have risen dramatically, raising concerns for many parents and patients. On this edition of “To the Best of My Knowledge,” we’ll talk about the benefits and risks of medicating children. Guests: Christopher Petersen, M.D., Child Psychiatrist at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and Craig Feaster, M.D. Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at SunPointe Health in State College, PA“ Click on this button to see the...
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