Childhood Depression

Our kids are depressed? It’s little wonder: Parents don’t take the time to engage their children anymore.

Football practice, ballet, soccer, basketball, guitar, after school clubs, work, and numerous other activities are what now replace “free play” in the lives of many children. Gone are the days when children were expected to spend hours outside playing with the neighborhood kids, riding bikes to the park, staying out all day with the exception of coming in for meals or bathroom breaks. In today’s society children spend most of their free time in planned activities. Free play has become a luxury. Past generations looked at childhood in a different light. Children were expected to be children, to get dirty, to be loud, and to look to their parents for guidance and advice, not their therapist.

The article I chose looks into the rise in childhood depression and the solutions that many parents are turning to; anti-depressants. The article is an editorial that is in response to two previous articles. The first which states that, “… anti-depressants such as Prozac work better on adolescent depression than “talk therapy”. The second article was of the latest fad, nannies at restaurants. The person writing this editorial found both of the above statements to be ridicules. She goes on to say that the reason more and more children are being labeled depressed is because of the lack of time parents are now putting in to their children. My article also goes on to highlight a study that was done where 439 youths between the ages of 12 and 17 suffering from a moderate to severe depression were divided into four different groups that received either 1. Prozac only; 2. Talk therapy only; 3. Placebo pills; and 4. Prozac and talk. Twelve weeks into the study the evidence that was produced indicated that the children who were receiving the Prozac along with the talk therapy did best. Although, those who receive only talk therapy did not do as well as those receiving only Prozac. The writer of the article is not surprised that those receiving the medication would show signs of improvement, obviously a mind altering drug would produce life altering effects. She then starts her conclusion which basically states that the cure for severe depression would include medicine, however the cure for what “ails” depressed children has to do with objectifying children, and molding them in to what the parents feels looks best or is the social “norm”.

This is a topic that is very interesting to me. First I want to look at the possible reason as to why this change in childhood took place. My first sociological explanation is that more mothers are going to work, which is leaving less time for the child to be in the home or with the parents. When both parents are working, the child is left unattended. To cure this problem more and more parents are desperately searching for “free” child care. The answer to these parents has become sports, lessons, and clubs. This is a way where the parents are seen as good parents who want their child involved, not as parents who do not have time for their children. A second possible reason for this shift in childhood expectations is violence. Almost every night while watching the news, or morning while reading the paper, we learn of kidnappings, gangs, molestations, and so on. When a parent listens to the media, a fear is instilled. Children are less likely to be able to play outside at free will, or ride their bikes to the parks. In this instance parents find planned activities where children are playing, but still safe. My third solution and one I feel the writer of my article would agree with is, parents are too busy. Parent’s today look for any “out” they can find to relieve them from their parenting duties. More and more parents are too consumed with themselves, and would rather their children be raised by strangers than have to deal with them.

This is where the depression starts. First it could come from a child who is so exhausted by constant practices, games, and lessons. Sports and activities they once loved now become a chore to them.