It is accustomed that psychiatric problems are dealt with once the first consequences start to show up. Thus, if an adult feels depressed or has committed an unlawful act due to his or her mental state, measures are taken.
Nevertheless, a recent study proves that mental problems should be dealt with earlier in life because children who display mild depression or unusual mental states that come and go, are more likely to have to deal with much more serious issues later in life.
The authors of the study, which was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, came to the conclusion that it was not necessary for these children to have a certain psychiatric condition in order to display the symptoms that led to the difficulties they faced later in life.
These included criminal acts, unwanted early pregnancies, professional and residential instability, educational failures or addictions.
The researchers explain that these children have very mild forms of depression when they are young and this is why they don’t get diagnosed and, consequently, don’t benefit from proper treatment.
However, the statistics are quite worrying and show an alarming number of children turn up problematic when they become adults, even if their mental issues were regarded as minor.
According to the authors, only 40 percent of the children who suffer from a mental illness get the necessary treatment for their condition. Moreover, there are very few who get diagnosed or treated for very serious conditions, such as borderline personality disorder.
This can be a major problem later on, not only for them as adults, but for the whole society in general, once they start committing various criminal acts.
William Copeland, the lead author of the study, who is a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, said that there are tools available that could address such issues. The only problem is that they are not implemented very well.
” When it comes to key psychiatric problems — depression, anxiety, behavior disorders — there are successful interventions and prevention programs,” he added.
In order to make this report, the researchers looked at the data collected in the Great Smoky Mountains Study, which involved more than 1,400 people from 11 countries and started about 20 years ago, following the participants from childhood to adulthood. Some of them are in their 30s.
The findings revealed that about 26 percent of them suffered from either anxiety or depression, 31 percent had milder problems and were not diagnosed and almost 43 percent did not have any detected problems.
As they became adults, it was shown that about 20 percent of those who had not been diagnosed with anything had difficulties in dealing with certain aspects of their lives. Out of the ones who displayed mild depression as children, almost 42 percent had at least one problem related to their condition. Those who were diagnosed when they were little were very affected as well. It was revealed that more than 59 percent of them had to face serious challenges later on in life.
Thus, it is needless to say that prevention goes a long way and parents should be careful to have their children treated for any mild problems and make sure they continue the counseling and medication when they become teenagers.
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