This isn’t a post about just children and sleep, per se, but the ongoing emphasis that healthy sleep habits are important for all of us, adults and children. I was doing some reading and have found that new studies are finding that it was once thought that sleep problems were a symptom of depression, but they are now considering that sleep problems may precede depression. In other words, if you begin to have substantial sleep problems, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) strongly recommends that you urgently go see a sleep specialist. Depression is the most common form of mental health problem and it now considered as common in children as it is adults. Each year 17 million people suffer from depression and as many as 1 in 33 children may have depression. It is important to determine whether your child or anyone you know has it. Studies of insomnia in children has been shown to lead to depression as they grow older and sleep problems have been linked to increased risk of anxiety and aggression, too.
The suggested treatment for depression in children is a form of psychotherapy called short-term cognitive behavior therapy in which the child is able to learn to view themselves more positively and in some cases, medication is also recommended. But, the FDA, in 2004, strengthened their warning that antidepressants in children can increase suicidal thoughts and therefore doctors should weigh the risks and benefits before prescribing them.
This is all a scary thought. Who knew that my preschooler could get depressed? I sure didn’t. But, antidepressant medication for young children? That is scary too.