“We Have Ruined Childhood” and Possible Link to Depression, Anxiety and Suicide

A recent NY Times commentary (We Have Ruined Childhood) details the rising rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide and suggests a link between these mental health issues and a lack of childhood free play.

An excerpt:

No longer able to rely on communal structures for child care or allow children time alone, parents who need to work are forced to warehouse their youngsters for long stretches of time. School days are longer and more regimented…

The role of school stress in mental distress is backed up by data on the timing of child suicide. “The suicide rate for children is twice what it is for children during months when school is in session than when it’s not in session,..

For many children, when the school day is over, it hardly matters; the hours outside school are more like school than ever…

The areas where children once congregated for unstructured, unsupervised play are now often off limits. And so those who can afford it drive their children from one structured activity to another. Those who can’t keep them inside. Free play and childhood independence have become relics, insurance risks, at times criminal offenses

Many parents and pediatricians speculate about the role that screen time and social media might play in this social deficit. But it’s important to acknowledge that simply taking away or limiting screens is not enough. Children turn to screens because opportunities for real-life human interaction have vanished.

Related blog posts:

Depression Screening for Pediatric Patients with IBD

Recently, we had a morning conference to review depression screening for pediatric patients with IBD.  This lecture was led by Chelly Dykes, MD. Many of these slides were adapted from resources developed by the (ImproveCareNow) ICN Psychosocial Professionals group.

We have started depression screening with a subset of our patients and soon will start screening all children 13 years and older.  When this is working well, younger ages may be targeted as well.

Some of the key points:

  • Depression/anxiety are common, particularly in patients with inflammatory bowel disease
  • National rates of suicide have been increasing
  • Asking about suicide does not increase the risk of suicidality
  • We are fortunate to work closely with two psychologists, Bonney Reed-Knight and Jessica Buzenski

Some of the slides are listed below.

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Suicide Rate Up 33% in Last 20 Years & Can We Stop It?

A recent article in USAToday highlights the increasing problem of suicides in U.S.:Suicide rate up 33% in less than 20 years, yet funding lags behind other top killers

Also, at the bottom of this post is more information on the topic of whether we can stop suicide from happening.

An excerpt from USAToday:

“More than 47,000 Americans killed themselves in 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … contributing to an overall decline in U.S. life expectancy. Since 1999, the suicide rate has climbed 33 percent. 

Americans are more than twice as likely to die by their own hands, of their own will, than by someone else’s. But while homicides spark vigils and protests, entering into headlines, presidential speeches and police budgets, suicides don’t. Still shrouded in stigma, many suicides go unacknowledged save for the celebrities – Robin Williams, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain – punctuating the unrelenting rise in suicide deaths with a brief public outcry. 

And research suggests our ways of living may be partly to blame, in ways that don’t bode well for the future.

Alcohol and substance abuse are risk factors, and both are increasing. Isolation raises the risk, and nearly half of Americans say they sometimes or always feel alone. Increasing smartphone use has been linked to suicidal thoughts in teens. Even climate change has been found to have roughly the same effect on increasing suicides as an economic recession.”

A related commentary from the NY Times: Can We Stop Suicides? details the reasons for suicides and discusses the potential of ketamine as a treatment for depression/suicidality.

 

What to Do For Friends and Family Who Are Depressed

In light of the troubling news of recent suicides, I wanted to reference a recent NY Times article which provides useful guidance on What to Do When a Loved One is Severely Depressed

Here are the key points/excerpts:

  • Don’t underestimate the power of showing up
  • Don’t try to cheer him up or offer advice

“Your job as a support person is not to cheer people up. It’s to acknowledge that it sucks right now, and their pain exists,” she said…

Instead of upbeat rebuttals about why it’s not so bad, she recommended trying something like, “It sounds like life is really overwhelming for you right now.”

  • It’s O.K. to ask if she is having suicidal thoughts
  • Take any mention of death seriously

If this person is seeing a psychiatrist or therapist, get him or her on the phone…

If that’s not an option, have the person you’re worried about call a suicide prevention line, such as a 1-800-273-TALK, or take her to the hospital emergency room; say aloud that this is what one does when a loved one’s life is in danger.

  • Make getting to that first appointment as easy as possible

You alone cannot fix this problem, no matter how patient and loving you are. A severely depressed friend needs professional assistance from a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or another medical professional.

  • Take care of yourself and set boundaries

Still, just because someone is depressed is not a reason to let their abusive behavior slide. Set clear boundaries with straightforward language such as, “It sounds like you’re in a lot of pain right now. But you can’t call me names.”..

It’s O.K. not to be available 24-7, but try to be explicit about when you can and cannot help. One way to do this, Ms. Devine advised, is to say: “I know you’ve been really struggling a lot, and I really want to be here for you. There are times that I physically can’t do that.”

  • Remember, people do recover from depression

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Also, it is worth noting that the suicide rate has been increasing.

Image Only: Middle Schoolers as Likely to Die From Suicide as From Traffic Accidents

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-12-57-22-pm

From NY Times:  Full Text

It is now just as likely for middle school students to die from suicide as from traffic accidents.

That grim fact was published on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They found that in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, the suicide rate for children ages 10 to 14 had caught up to their death rate for traffic accidents.