More than 150,000 children in Orange County suffer from a mental health condition.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people ages 10-24.
These are staggering statistics. Depression in the adolescent years happens more than many realize. When it impacts a family, many feel that they are the only ones, and alone. CHOC Children’s acknowledges that there are many adolescents in our community that are in need of help, and they are in the process of expanding their child mental health services by building a Children’s Mental Health Impatient Center to provide care for children ages 3 to 18.
We talked with Dr. Nadia Torres-Eaton, a licensed psychologist who is board certified in clinical psychology, about what parents can do when faced with a child who is suffering from depression.
A Silent topic
If mental health conditions impact one in five children in our community, why is it such a silent topic? Doctor Torres-Eaton said, “Kids don’t know how to describe it, and it can often be mislabeled as ‘they are teenagers.’ It can be blamed on hormones, and families might minimize it because they are not aware of the symptoms.”
What symptoms should parents be looking for?
Doctor Torres-Eaton shared with us that some of the signs that children might be suffering from true depression are irritability, having low self-esteem, and lack of interest in things that are normally fun for them. “They usually can’t pinpoint why they feel the way that they do. Parents might think that they are not acting themselves because of their classmates or their parents setting too many limits, but it’s when you combine multiple social and emotional issues, you can consider that possibly your teen/child might be depressed,” said Torres-Eaton.
When to make the decision to get help?
“If there is a lot of conflict at home where the parents are having trouble getting along with their child or vice versa. If your child is having trouble getting along in school or having social problems beyond ‘I’m mad at my friend.’ If they can’t get along with anyone, they don’t like anyone and feel like nobody has their back. This is when it is time to get some help from a doctor who can work along with the parents to research what the patterns are to help them learn some coping skills,” Doctor Torres-Eaton. She continued to say, “They need to learn how to advocate for themselves.”
Where do you go for help?
CHOC Children’s is the best place to start when looking for help when you feel like your child is suffering from depression. The have the best pediatric mental health physicians available in Orange County to help families get the right services, support, and resources needed to help their children. The new CHOC Children’s Mental Health Inpatient Center will expand their services and is expected to open in late 2017.
As parents, we all need to start the conversation about childhood depression, and encourage others to talk about it. Learn more about CHOC Children’s online, Facebook, and Twitter.