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Depression in Children Information

  • Clinical depression is a state of sadness, melancholia or despair that has advanced to the point of being disruptive to an individual's social functioning and/or activities of daily living. Although a low mood or state of dejection that does not affect functioning is often referred to as depression, clinical depression is a medical diagnosis and is different from the everyday meaning of "being depressed"...
  • Clinical depression affects about 16% of the population on at least one occasion in their lives. The mean age of onset, from a number of studies, is in the late 20s. About twice as many females as males report or receive treatment for clinical depression, though this imbalance is shrinking over the course of recent history; this difference seems to completely disappear after the age of 50 - 55, when most females have passed the end of menopause. Clinical depression is currently the leading cause of disability in the US as well as other countries, and is expected to become the second leading cause of disability worldwide (after heart disease) by the year 2020, according to the World Health Organization.

    It is hard for people who have not experienced clinical depression, either personally or by regular exposure to people suffering it, to understand its emotional impact and severity, interpreting it instead as being similar to "having the blues" or "feeling down." As the list of symptoms above indicates, clinical depression is a serious, potentially lethal systemic disorder characterized by interlocking physical, affective, and cognitive symptoms that have consequences for function and survival well beyond sad or painful feelings.

    The exact cause of dysthymia is unknown. Although the symptoms are not as severe as those of other forms of depression, affected people struggle nearly every day with low self-esteem, despair, and hopelessness.

    Dysthymia can occur alone or in conjunction with more severe depression or other mood or psychiatric disorders.

    Major Depression, or, more properly, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), is characterized by a severely depressed mood that persists for at least two weeks, and is generally recognized to contain an organic (chemical) component

    Dysthymia is a long-term, mild depression that lasts for a minimum of two years. There must be persistent depressed mood continuously for at least two years. By definition the symptoms are not as severe as with Major Depression, although those with Dysthymia are vulnerable to co-occurring episodes of Major Depression. This disorder often begins in adolescence and crosses the lifespan. People who are diagnosed with major depressive episodes and dysthymic disorder are diagnosed with double depression. Dysthimic disorder develops first and then one or more major depressive episodes happen later.

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