Depression: Kids and babies have it too - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Depression: Kids and babies have it too

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Dubuque (KWWL) -- Depression can affect anyone, including children as young as infants and toddlers. In fact, a psychiatric services published report says at least 4% of preschoolers are clinically depressed.

Community Circle of Care opened in Dubuque two years ago, funded with state and federal money, and a collaboration with the Department of Human Services, Iowa Child Health Specialty Clinics, and Center for Disabilities and Development.

"The minute we opened our doors, we had tons of people coming in to get services and that need has not slowed down," Project manager Vickie Miene said.

Community Circle of Care provides assessments, services, and referrals free of charge. Staff say the majority of depression cases they see are with middle school aged kids.

"All kids have episodes of depression just like all adults have episodes, but they're short in duration and pass quickly. If a child continues to to exhibit those symptoms for two weeks or more, then I think it's time to be concerned," Gloria Klinefelter said.

Symptoms vary by age, but most often include drastic changes in character, mood, personality or likes and dislikes. Click here to see a symptom chart broken down by age group.

Psychiatric professionals at Mercy Medical Associates say any of those signs should trigger parents.

"The problem with depression and kids is kids don't know how to say that "I'm depressed", and they feel that sometimes, this is the normal state. They don't have anything to compare; they don't have expectations," Dr. Adib Kassas said.

Many health professionals say the most effective treatments come from a combination of medication and social therapy.

Medication has been a souce of debate with treating childhood and adolescent depression. The FDA has only approved two antidepressents for use with children.

"We definitely continue to monitor patients very closely once we start any medication; antidepressent or likewise. We will closely monitor them and also have family members be notified of any signs or symptoms of increased depression or in suicidal thoughts," Karen Fulwood, ARNP, PMHNP-BC, DNP said.

All professionals agree: taking that step to get depression treatment -- therapy and medication -- can be vital and lifesaving.

"Because it's so treatable, it's important to get them help. If you take a child in and the diagnosis isn't confirmed, you haven't lost anything, but you stand to lose a lot if you don't seek help for your child," Klinefelter said.

"It's very important to get help, because, seriously, it's treatable. It's not something you have to live with, and it's very unbearable for a child to be depressed and something that could end up with suicide," Kassas said.

Watch extended video of our interview with Dr. Adib Kassas by clicking here. (Select appropriate video in the player at top right).

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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