If you want to get a grip on how fast things are changing in the world you just need to look at the changing attitudes towards mental health issues. Not so long ago only a few people admitted to feeling depressed and fewer were keen to go for therapy.
Fast forward to today and we have acknowledged skyrocketing of depression among all ages. Yes, all ages. That includes young children and even toddlers.
Isn’t that shocking?
On a recent NBC News report 16-year-old Alex Crotty told reporters that she was just 11 when she started feeling empty and miserable — never content or connected to other children. For years, she suffered alone, filled with shame, she said.
Alex was 14 when she finally told her mother that she couldn’t feel anything. Subsequently she was diagnosed with major depression and anxiety and is receiving treatment.
The question we ask here: is the mental health crisis among our youth yet another sign of a broken society?
America’s youth is experiencing a mental health crisis
Sadly, Alex is not a lone exception. NBC News reported that America’s youth is experiencing an acute mental health crisis.
The news report referenced shocking figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: one in five children aged between 3 and 17, about 15 million, have a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral disorder in a given year.
What’s more, only a small percentage of these children are ever diagnosed. About 12 million are not receiving treatment.
According to the CDC report, released in August, the suicide rate among girls reached a 40-year high in 2015. In addition, recent research indicates that serious depression is worsening amongst teens, especially girls.
“Child and adolescent mental health disorders are the most common illnesses that children will experience under the age of 18. It’s pretty amazing, because the number’s so large that I think it’s hard to wrap our heads around it,” Dr. Harold Koplewicz, founding president of The Child Mind Institute, told NBC News.
It gets worse.
The most shocking part and unreal part is the prevalence of mental health issues among toddlers.
In the past, when a toddler threw the most awful tantrums screaming and kicking on the floor, we used to refer to it as ‘the terrible twos’. Now this behavior may be a sign of depression!
Children are at increasing risks of depression
This is crazy:
According to research, 1 to 2 percent of children as young as 2–5 years old are depressed, Dr. Joan Luby, director of the Early Emotional Development program at the Washington University School of Medicine told NBC News.
It’s only fairly recently that people are starting to pay attention to children who seem sad or depressed. We just never thought it possible that a child could be depressed. It seems that adults have been underestimating the emotional lives of youngsters which seem more complex than we realized before, Luby said.
Dr. Luby told NBC News that young children understand more and are more emotionally sophisticated, than adults previously understood. They have complex emotions and are aware of the emotions of others in their environment.
Suicide now one of the leading causes of death
Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, according to the CDC.
Research has found that depression is a growing threat to American adolescents. The prevalence of depressive episodes amongst adolescents increased from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 11.3 percent in 2014 in adolescents and from 8.8 percent to 9.6 percent in young adults,” according to Dr. Ramin Mojtabai of Johns Hopkins University.
It really looks like a crisis.
About 50 percent of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, according to the American Psychiatric Association. A tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.
This is crazy:
The situation is so bad that many teenagers contemplate suicide and as many as 5,000 actually take their own lives every year Koplewicz said.
Signs of a broken society?
The signs of depression in teenagers must not be confused with adolescent angst.
“Teenagers have a different kind of depression. They don’t seem sad. They seem irritable,” Koplewicz told NBC News.
You will notice depression in your child if he or she is unable to concentrate, or unwilling to continue playing sport or be with friends.
Look out for moodiness or irritability that lasts for more than two weeks and is occurring every day, for most of the day. Also watch out for changes in sleep patterns and a change in willingness to work and socialize.
Why are so many children and young people struggling with mental health issues? To what extent does the mental issues in children correlate with stress parents are experiencing? In other words, are mental health problems among the youth yet another symptom of a broken society?