Lufkin pediatrician responds to recommendation to screen children for depression

Source: KTRE staff
Source: KTRE staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The American Academy of Pediatrics announced Monday that they recommend all pediatricians start screening children, over the age of 12, for depression, due to a recent increase in the amount of children diagnosed and committing suicides.

When it comes the topic of depression, mother of two teenagers, Diana Hineman, said she believes in a group approach.

"A lot of times they hold their feelings in," Hineman said. "And, that's why I think there need to be multiple people willing to listen."

A 2017 study showed that the level of American teens, experiencing depressive symptoms, has risen 33 percent. A fact that former youth pastor, Wesley Burke, saw in the amount of kids coming to him.

"They would open up about issues that God was really convicting them about," Burke said. "It seemed as though more than half, in some ways, struggled with despondency or depression."

Lufkin pediatrician, Christina Graves, has seen this rise in depression reflected in her patients.

"I had one as young as age 11 that tried to overdose on medication because she was depressed," Graves said.

Graves said that she checks to see if headaches or stomach aches are physical health issues, before asking questions about depression.

"So, parents don't usually come in seeking a depression questionnaire, but they come in with kind of vague complaints," Graves said. "And, it should ring a providers attention that this might be depression."

Graves added that depression, in youth, could seem like normal teenage behaviors.

"It masks itself because kids don't know what they're feeling," Graves said. "They don't understand, and they get very frustrated. And, so, they may be more irritable and just very difficult at home. And, so those are things I ask parents about that."

Another recent study showed that nearly half of all young people who have depression are diagnosed, before they become adults.

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