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Mental Health Matters Journal for Psychiatrists & GP's

MHM Volume5 Issue5

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depression speaking book

Literacy is a luxury that many of us take for granted.  We depend on written communication for information, guidance, and access to heath care information That is why SADAG created SPEAKING BOOKS and revolutionized the way information is delivered to low literacy communities. It's exactly what it sounds like.a book that talks to the reader in his or her local  language, delivering critical information in an interactive, and educational way.

The customizable 16-page book, accompanied by local celebrity audio recordings, ensures that vital health and social messages can be seen, heard, read and understood..

We started with books on Teen Suicide prevention , HIV, AIDS and Depression, Understanding Mental Health and have developed over 30 titles, such as TB, Malaria, Polio, Vaccines for over 30 countries.

suicide speaking book

Up to 20% of children will suffer from depression during their school years. South Africa is no exception. All children feel unhappy from time to time. Sadness is a normal, natural response to many life events. But when that sadness runs too deep, lasts too long or occurs too often, it may be a sign of depression, even in very young children.

How to tell if your child is depressed? Check the following statements true or false:

1. Your child seems sad a lot of the time. { } True { } False

2. Your child has trouble sleeping. { } True { } False

3. Your child feels tired a lot of the time. { } True { } False

4. Your child doesn’t have many friends. { } True { } False

5. Your child cries a lot. { } True { } False

6. Your child doesn’t like to play with other children. { } True { } False

7. Your child has drastically reduced food intake. { } True { } False

8. Other children don’t like your child. { } True { } False

9. Your child feels lonely. { } True { } False

10. Your child has lots of headaches and stomach aches. { } True { } False

11. Your child doesn’t like school. { } True { } False

12. Your child has bad dreams. { } True { } False

13. Your child doesn’t do as well in school as he/she used to. { } True { } False

14. Your child worries a lot. { } True { } False

15. Your child doesn’t like himself/herself. { } True { } False

16. Other children have more fun than your child does. { } True { } False

17. Your child often hurts himself or talks about. { } True { } False

18. Your child seems to have trouble concentrating. { } True { } False

19. Your child acts angry lots of the time. { } True { } False

20. Your child gets into lots of fights. { } True { } False

There are four important points to take into consideration.

1. No single symptom, in isolation, signals depression. Depression is best understood as a cluster of symptoms that together may indicate that your child is depressed.

If you answered “true” to three or more of the above statements, and if the symptoms.3 represent a noticeable change from the way your child usually acts, your child should be evaluated by a qualified mental health professional.

2. If the symptoms are present for an extended period of time (whether they are continuous or come and go) your child should be evaluated by a professional. Any normal child may be tearful and withdrawn for a day or two, particularly if he/she is reacting to a specific upsetting event, such as being turned down for the lead in the school play. But if the tearfulness and isolation persist for several weeks, or recur frequently, your child may be clinically depressed.

3. If the symptoms interfere with your child’s everyday activities, he may have a problem.

4. If you answered “true” to number 17, which reveals self destructive or suicidal thoughts, he/she should be evaluated immediately to ensure his physical safety.

Untreated depression can create severe emotional and developmental setbacks: a depressed child is less likely to make friends, do well in school, join clubs, participate in sports, or get involved in other activities that help develop a healthy self-esteem and important life skills. Without a strong self-image and good coping skills, a child is much more likely to suffer recurring emotional and social problems with long-lasting consequences.

But even when you suspect depression, first make sure that any physical causes are completely ruled out. If you’ve ruled out physical causes, but still think there’s a problem, consult a mental health professional; only someone who is well-trained in children’s emotional issues can accurately diagnose clinical depression in your child.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Support Group are currently running programmes for teachers on how to deal with and identify potentially suicidal children. Contact them on (011) 783-1474/6, 884-1797 or 0800-11-8362 for free lectures, brochures or counseling.

Don’t jump to conclusions.

It’s easy to become overly vigilant in looking for the signs and symptoms of depression in your child, but while you want to be alert to any changes in your child’s behaviour you also don’t want to jump to conclusions. No individual behaviour necessarily signals depression in your child except indications of suicide, which demand immediate attention. If you have any doubts, it’s always best to err on the side of safety, and have your child evaluated by a trained health clinician.

From HELP ME, I’M SAD by David G Fassler, M.D. and Lynne S Dumas. Ó 1997 by David G Fassler, M.D. and Lynne S. Dumas. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.


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