How to Spot Depression in your Children

Signs of Depression in your Children

In today’s complex society depression among children is more prevalent than previously thought. Younger children (pre-teen) can certainly suffer depression, it is much more commonly found in teenagers. It is estimated that 10% of teenagers will develop clinical depression before the age of 17. Depression is a serious condition or illness but it can be treated.

Recognizing and treating depression in children is very important for parents because untreated depression can have lifetime repercussions. Children who struggle with depression often find feel the impact in adulthood. Some studies have shown that these children frequently experience lower incomes, lower educational levels, periods of unemployment, and social problems with family and work.

Depression is different, and more serious, than the normal “blues” that children experience periodically. Children are often sad for one reason or another but the sadness is temporary – or should be. Persistent sadness, or frequent disruptive behavior, is not normal and should be more closely examined.

The symptoms of depression can vary from child to child. And children may exhibit only a few symptoms and still be clinically depressed. So let’s take a look at some of the most common warning signs of children’s depression.

Warning Signs / Symptoms of Depression in Children

  • Less energy or fatigue
  • Persistent sadness
  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Anger and irritable
  • Change in appetite
  • Crying
  • Loss of interest in home/friends/hobbies
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Loss of social interaction
  • Mysterious physical aliments
  • Thoughts of suicide

It is common for children to display different depression symptoms at different times. And a depressed child may function reasonably well in some environments such as school. But most of the time the one or more of these symptoms will be evident because the parent will see changes in social activities, loss of interest in things that were important, and or a change in physical appearance.

Should you suspect your child is depressed then take him or her to a professional for an evaluation.

Asthma Drugs and how they Affect your Children.

Although there are few side-effects or dangers associated with asthma drugs used with children, there are risks with any drug. We will take a quick look at the various asthma drugs and concerns for children.

The child’s age is important.  Children age 4 and under are usually treated differently than children from 5 to 11 years of age. Doctors will try and prescribe the least amount of medicine that will control the asthma symptoms in the child. Generally the doctor will gradually increase the amount of medication, or combine medications, until an acceptable level of control is achieved.  Once an acceptable level of asthma control is achieved in a child the doctor may start reducing the amount of the medication.  The goal is to achieve results with the least amount of drugs. A child with well-controlled asthma will have 1) few or no symptoms of asthma, 2) few or no asthma attacks, 3) few instances of quick-relief inhaler use, and 4) few or no side effects from the asthma drugs.

Asthma drugs are frequently placed in two categories, prevention (long-term) and quick-relief (short-term). Long-term medications are usually taken daily and the most commonly used are 1) Inhaled Corticosteroids, 2) Leukotriene Modifiers, and 3) Combination Inhalers.

Inhaled Corticosteroids are perhaps the most commonly prescribed long-term asthma drug for children. However, studies have shown that these drugs can slow growth in children. Although the effect is minor, and most of the growth seems to be “recaptured” later in the teens, parents should be observant and closely monitor the growth of their asthmatic children.

Leukotriene Modifiers are oral medications and usually prevent asthma symptoms for 24 hours.  However, in a very small number of children it has been associated with negative psychological reactions such as depression, aggression, and suicidal thoughts. Parents should closely monitor their children for any of change in the behavior of their children.

Combination Inhalers are usually used when the child’s asthma is not well-controlled by other asthma drugs. In rare cases these drugs have been linked to severe asthma attacks.

Quick-relief drugs are also called rescue medications and as their name implies, they are used for quick, short-term asthma symptom relief. The most common types of quick-relief asthma drugs are 1) Beta Agonists, 2) Ipratropium (Atrovent), and 3) Oral / Intravenous Corticosteroids.  The first category of these drugs, Beta Agonists, are inhaled and act within minutes and provide effective relief for a few hours. The second category of these drugs, Ipratropium,  is also inhaled but it is more commonly used with people who have emphysema and/or chronic bronchitis. These first two categories relax the airways of the child.  The third category, oral / intravenous corticosteroids is used to treat inflammation in the airway.  These drugs are only used for short-term treatment because they can cause very serious side effects on a long-term basis.

In short, it is very important for the parents and the child to participate in the child’s treatment program for asthma. Knowing more about the condition will give the child more confidence that he or she has a large measure of control of their health.

Ear Infections in Children

Otitis, a general term for inflammation or infection of the ear, is a common childhood disease. Otitis media (middle ear infection) is the second most common infectious disease after nasopharyngitis, a condition in which the throat and nasal passages become infected and inflamed. The most common childhood ear infection affects the middle ear. An ear infection can occur in isolation or accompany another disease, such as postnasal drip. Otitis can affect one or both ears.

Symptoms

Any of the following symptoms may accompany an infectious episode caused by otitis. Usually the child will make it clear that he / she has an ear infection.

  • A runny nose a few days before the onset of otitis
  • Sudden pain, violent, heavy and throbbing of the affected ear
  • Ringing
  • Sensation of plugged ear
  • Appearance of a blood
  • The child may have difficulty hearing
  • Crying, fatigue, fever, headache, sore throat and difficulty sleeping may accompany infectious episode caused by otitis.

Treatment options for Ear Infections

The physical structure of the ear, nose and throat of a child can cause chronic (persistent / long term) ear infections. In this case, your doctor may recommend that the establishment of ventilation tubes in the ear or the removal of adenoids – the lining of the upper part of the throat behind the nose.

Most ear infections resolve spontaneously within a few days. This is why experts recommend the doctor to wait 2-3 days before prescribing antibiotics in some cases of acute ear infection.

Depending on the condition of your child, your doctor may recommend medication or surgery. Ear infections are the most common cause of hearing loss in children, which can affect learning and speech development. In some cases, hearing loss may be permanent.

Medication

If the infection is bacterial, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. If the infection is viral, antibiotics will not help. Using antibiotics when they are not needed can be harmful and can lead to the emergence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Your doctor may prescribe a pain reliever for you or your child be more comfortable while the virus is active.

Surgical Treatments

If the ear infection keeps coming back or lasts, your doctor may suggest surgery. Surgical treatments include the introduction of a ventilation tube in the eardrum to drain the fluid or removal of swollen or inflamed adenoids (adenoidectomy), where bacteria can multiply and prevent the natural drainage in the throat.

Management of Fever in Children

Management of Fever in Children

Fever is a rise in core body temperature above the body’s normal set point. Normal body temperature is between 97.5° – 99.5° F. Fever is a temperature of 100.4° F or above.

What causes a fever?

There are various causes for a child to have a rise in temperature. Fever generally occurs in response to an infection, cancer, drug or toxin, autoimmune processes and even allergic reactions can cause a low grade fever. Hyperthermia, or overheating, can be caused by strenuous exercise or environmental exposure.

The hypothalamus regulates your body’s core temperature. During an infection your hypothalamus resets the body’s normal set point. This is why traditional cooling efforts are ineffective.

Treatment of fever

Fever is a very normal response to infection. How high your child’s fever is and how it responds to medication is not a good indicator of the severity of the illness.

Fever can be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, (product names Tylenol and Motrin).  Fever should not be treated with cold baths or alcohol baths. Both can be dangerous and are ineffective in reducing fever. Bathing the child using the temperature normally used for their bath is effective.  Cooling efforts such as wearing light clothing and reducing air temperature may help provide comfort. These will however be more effective if used after medication is given.

When should I call my doctor?

Call your doctor immediately if:

  • Your child is younger than 3 months
  • Your child has a fever above 104°F
  • Your child looks or acts extremely ill
  • Your child has had a seizure
  • Your child has had a fever for more than 3 days
  • Your child has accompanying symptoms that may indicate a bacterial infection such as earache, stiff neck, headache, or sore throat

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