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Childhood Depression

Question:

I am only 13 years old and I think I may be depressed, though I do not know why I am. Everything is the same as it has always been and there is no reason for me to feel this way. I have started loosing weight, avoiding my family and friends and my grades are pretty bad. I have tried talking to my parents about it but they just ignore me. What should I do?

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  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

There are a variety of misconceptions out there concerning depression – one of which is that kids don’t get it. This is false. There are many kids out there who are depressed and who would benefit from proper treatment of depression. But just because your parents don’t know (or don’t want to know) this, doesn’t mean you should suffer. Find a way to see a doctor. You might go through your school, or simply get your parents to take you to visit the doctor for a physical checkup, or because you are complaining of the physical symptoms you’re experiencing like the weight loss. When you see the doctor, tell her (or him) what has been happening. Most doctors today are clued in enough to know basic ways to treat depression.

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p> There are several ways to help depression. Doctors like to focus on medication, because that is what they went to school to know how to do. Medicine can be helpful and if it is offered to you by a doctor, there is no reason you shouldn’t try it and see if it helps. You should know, however, that there are other ways to help depression besides medicine. Psychotherapy (which is where you see a therapist and talk about what is happening in your life) can also be quite helpful. It may seem strange talking about your personal life to a therapist whom you don’t know well – but after you get used to the idea, it can be really helpful. If the idea of therapy appeals to you, ask whether it would be possible for you to have that treatment. Good Luck!

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