Depression in kids can mimic ADHD symptoms, depression screenings can help

Local News

As many as one in every five teens experiences depression at some point, but now the American Academy of Pediatrics has released guidelines to better tackle mental health issues in children.  

“All he kept saying was, ‘Mommy, I’m so sorry, Mommy I’m so sorry.’ I said, ‘Matthew, what did you do?’ He then said, ‘Mommy, there’s so much blood.”  

Those words are from Parent Christina Melo, whose son suffers from depression.  It was a phone call no parent wants to ever get, their child close to death on the other side of the line.

“I didn’t know what to do, and didn’t know what pushed him to this point.” 

For the Bella Vista Mom, it became all too real when she realized her 16-year-old son was attempting to commit suicide.  “It was the most helpless feeling.” 

Now, her son, Matthew, is a suicide survivor, but she wishes she could have done more about his depression sooner, when she saw his symptoms originally, in kindergarten.  “If a doctor could get that conversation going and have the opportunity to start treatment early before it gets out of hand, is absolutely  ideal.”

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, released its guidelines for universal depression screenings for teens during annual check-ups.  Megan Werner, Psychotherapist, says, “We have to start normalizing it. It’s very normal to go to the doctor when we’re sick or have the flu. We need to start normalizing what depression looks like, what anxiety  looks like.”

Werner says the disorder can be hard to pinpoint, so a yearly check-up would help parents.  “For kids, it can mimic some symptoms of ADHD, so it can be a little bit confusing because people expect that prolonged sadness and things that we see in adults.”

A year after Matthew’s attempted suicide, he’s taking positive steps moving forward.  Melo tells us, “Some days are great. He has done very well the last two or three months. Sometimes, we’ll have a breakdown, but it’s just  matter of working through it.”

If you know someone who is suffering from depression, see a doctor, or if you know someone that is suicidal, contact an anonymous suicide helpline at 1-800-273-8255, or click here for the chat crisis line

–Haley Hughey 

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