A Answers (5)
Louise Sivak, Pediatrics, answeredWhile depression can be difficult to diagnose in a person of any age, pediatricians are generally attuned to the increase in mental health conditions in young people. Most pediatricians conduct screening (through a combination of written and verbal questionnaires obtaining information from children / teens and their parents) to identify symptoms and signs of depression. Many pediatricians work closely with pediatric psychologists and other mental health professionals to diagnose and treat their patients with depression.
Your pediatrician can diagnose depression and is the best place to start when you have concerns about your child's health. Often times there are other health issues that are present with depression and your pediatrician can support you in managing all of them.
The ideal scenario would be one where your pediatrician can collaborate with a mental health professional as partners in co-managing the depression. Your pediatrician's comfort with the medical condition and the complexity will determine how much care you receive from them and how much you receive from the mental health professional.
Pediatricians can diagnose depression in your child, but not all feel comfortable. Either way, your pediatrician is a good place to start. Pediatricians are a child's medical home and should be aware of any treatments they receive.
Depending on the severity of symptoms and whether medication or therapy are considered, your pediatrician may opt to refer to a psychiatrist, psychologist or other therapist.
A pediatrician may or may not be able to diagnose depression depending on the pediatrician's training and clinical experience. It is certainly appropriate to consult your child's pediatrician if you are concerned that your child is depressed. Although certain pediatricians may not be experienced or comfortable with making the diagnosis, your child's doctor can make a referral to a pediatric psychiatrist (MD/DO) or pediatric psychologist (PhD) for evaluation and management.
Depression is usually in occurrence with another disorder (i.e., comorbid). For example, depression is comorbid with ADHD, behavior disorders, and substance abuse or chemical dependency. The reason this might be the case is that both disorders might share similar risk factors and/or one disorder could be the forerunner to or be a consequence of the other. Regardless, a pediatric psychiatrist or pediatric psychologist will be best able to discern these factors and implement treatment including if medication is appropriate.
Michele Borba, Psychology, answeredYour pediatrician may not be trained to spot early childhood depression so seek medical advice of a child psychologist or child psychiatrist who specializes in early childhood depression and anxiety.
Depression can be devastating and have a lasting effect on the child’s social, emotional and cognitive development. The long-term consequences are too severe to ignore. The best news is when diagnosed early and properly treated, kids almost always can be helped and feel better, and the earlier you seek treatment the better. The key is to make sure to get the right diagnosis and treatment.
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