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Mood Disorders Going Undetected in U.S. Children
Date:7/14/2010

ure their feelings against so they don't know how they are supposed to feel. It takes an astute adult observing them from outside to detect that something is wrong."

In addition, childhood anxiety and depression sometimes go unnoticed because troubled kids tend to internalize their symptoms, Shaw said. Kids with mood disorders keep to themselves, tend to be quiet and are rarely disruptive, he said.

"They often do very well academically so teachers tend to overlook them," Shaw said.

Remedying the situation, Benson and Shaw said, starts with the parents.

Parents should keep in mind that family history plays a big part in mood disorders, Shaw explained. A child with one parent who has had a major depressive disorder has a 25 percent chance of having the mood disorder themselves, he said. If both parents have had depression or anxiety, their child's chances go up to as high as 50 percent.

That means, Benson said, that children from a family with a history of mood disorders should be watched closely for signs of depression or anxiety.

"If I know my child may have inherited this condition, I can be watching and picking up on symptoms earlier," he said. "If parents are watching for it and catching it early, then our treatments are going to be more effective."

Benson also recommended training daycare and preschool instructors to better detect signs of mood disorders. Teachers at the elementary, middle school and high school levels generally receive this type of training in college education courses, but daycare instructors often have not taken those classes, he said.

"I have children who have been expelled from two or three daycares because their behavior's so awful, and the teachers there want to say this is a bad kid rather than seeing this as an illness that needs treatment," Benson said.

Signs of depression in children and teens vary by age, but according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, in general they
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