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anti depression tool

Mental Illness in Children

Mental Illness In Children – Are We Too Afraid To Find Out?

Up until about 20 years ago, the idea of mental illness occurring in children was pretty much unthinkable.

Boys who were extremely active were sent outside to play.  Defiant children were punished or sent outside to play.  Irritable children were sent outside to play.  Depressed children were sent outside to play.  Get the picture?Get the Idea

Today we do know a lot more about mental illness and have a lot more medication to treat it.  As mental illness becomes more easily diagnosed in adults, it is natural that we begin to look at our children and wonder.  It is also natural that we look back on our own childhoods and wonder or even know that we were ill then too.

Even though most psychiatric diseases are not diagnosed until the teens or early adulthood, it should be fairly obvious that those diseases did not suddenly happen when the kid turned 18. Likely there were signs of existing mental disorder long before the diagnosis.  Unfortunately, some parents may be too afraid to look.

The problem with recognizing mental illness in childhood is that symptoms of mental illness are different from the symptoms in adults.  Children’s symptoms can be masked with other signs or even opposite to those in adults, so they are not obvious. In addition, the symptoms of many different psychiatric disorders are so similar that it is difficult to distinguish one disorder from another.  Some examples:

Depression in children can show as: Depression, Insomnia, Nightmares, Bedwetting, Anxiety, Combativeness, Lack of interest, Anger, Poor grades

Anxiety in children can show as: Insomnia, Nightmares, Bedwetting, Fearfulness, Depression, Poor grades, Social inadequacies, Lack of interest, Combativeness, Anger.

Mental Illness in ChildrenADHD can show as: Inattentiveness, Lack of interest, Fidgetiness, Poor grades, Irritability, Inability to make friends, Excessive anger, Lack of organization

Asperger’s can show as: Lack of interest, Poor grades, Inability to make friends, Excessive anger, Lack of organization

On the other hand normal childhood occurrences such as puberty can show as: Lack of attention, Difficulty getting along with friends, Unexpected anger, Excessive sleep, Inability to sleep, Nightmares, Irritability, Mood swings, Excessive anger, Excessive crying, Poor grades

And Sexual abuse can show as: Nightmares, Bed-wetting, Excessive anger, Anxiety, Depression, Mood swings, Irritability, Disinterest

So how can we determine if it is something that happened to the child, something that is temporary or something like a mental illness?

The best things we can do are to pay attention, know your children.  If they change, find out why.  Know your family history.  If they seem “different”, talk to their teachers.  If they are continuously exhibiting behavior outside of the range of “normal”, there may be something wrong.  Listen to your kids, if they tell you that something is wrong, it probably is.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Educate yourself.  Take the self-test quizzes.  Have your spouse or the child’s other caregivers take the tests.  Take all of this information to your healthcare provider and if that doesn’t work, find someone who will listen.

Most mental disorders are not diagnosed until the late teens or early adulthood – bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorder and schizophrenia.  There is more recognition today, but a lot of resistances to – both from parents and health professionals.  Don’t be afraid to seek help just because you are afraid of medication, knowing what is wrong and knowing your options can head off problems.

Recognizing an oncoming issue may help prevent years of anguish for your child and yourself.

Melissa Lind

Vagus Nerve Stimulator as an Anti Depression Device

Vagus Nerve Stimulator as an Anti Depression Device

Anti depression tools are rare.

There is, of course, therapy. Electroshock therapy can sometimes be effective but has largely fallen out of favor. Otherwise, those treating depression is limited to the use of antidepressant pharmaceuticals to deal with the disorder. After those three options are exhausted, few alternatives exist. That may soon change. The United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is considering approving the vagus nerve stimulator, an electronic device that is implanted in the chest of a patient, as a means of tackling depression.

Vagus Nerve StimulatorThe nerve stimulator is somewhat akin to a pacemaker. Wires run from it to the neck, where a nerve connected to the brain in stimulated. The vagus nerve stimulator has been used to treat epilepsy, but now its manufacturer is arguing that it can be used to effectively as an anti depression tool for many patients who appear to be resistant to medications.

The issue of approving the vagus nerve stimulator for use in combating depression is somewhat controversial.

Critics complain that there is little hard evidence to suggest that the device has a significant chance of success. They point to studies that question whether the vagus nerve stimulator is a more effective anti depression tool than placebos. They also note that even the proponents of the stimulator are not even sure why the product might serve an anti depression function. In fairness, the critics will concede that the same study did show a significant improvement in mood and disposition for some patients. Most, however, did not experience a notable change in their condition. Only seventeen of over one hundred participants in one study noted any positive change. Among who underwent and implant but never had the device turned on, eleven reported improved moods. Backed by testimonials by those who found the nerve stimulator to be a credible anti depression tool and a paucity of alternative treatment regimens for those who are medically-resistance, the device is inching closer and closer to approval despite the somewhat shaky nature of available evidence.

Cycle of depressionThere seems to be limited negative repercussions associated with the use of the vagus nerve stimulator. This means; in situations where other interventions have failed, it may be an option worth pursuing. Depression is a growing epidemic, and the limited number of treatment tools available to practitioners to treat the disorder can be problematic, especially in cases where a depressed patient fails to respond to the use of popular antidepressant medications. All predictions indicate that the number of depression diagnoses will continue to move upward at a rapid pace. In the near future, another tool may be available to deal with depression: the vagus nerve stimulator.

Although the overall effectiveness of the implant is still in question, its effectiveness for some patients may encourage its “last case” used for some patients seeking an anti depression product.