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Depression Promotion in Consumer Advocacy: Sick Brains, Scrutinized Behavior, and Self-Healing
Unformatted Document Text:  9 contend that children’s depressed symptoms are linked to sick brains, despite that psychiatrists have been hesitant to diagnose this “population” with mental illness given children’s rapidly changing development and resulting fluctuations in behaviors. Based on claims that 1/33 children and 1/8 adolescents are depressed (http://www.nami.org/helpline/depression-child.html), NAMI promotes a broad-spectrum diagnostic mode to catch children at risk before they slip into major depression. The Website deploys sensationalist language, referring to children with depressed symptoms as “children with brain disorders.” ( http://www.nami.org/update/unitedchildren.html. ). Like the standard depression script, NAMI links risk with mental disorder. The organization suggests that common youth behaviors are warning signs of depression, including “poor performance in school, loss of interest in activities and people previously enjoyed, sleep problems, obsession about or lack of interest in appearance or weight, or unexplained fears.” ( http://www.nami.org/youth/index.html ) The Website provides an assessment tool ( http://www.nami.org/youth/whatmtr.html ) to facilitate caregivers’ surveillance of their children for possible depression. If the child demonstrates some of the following behaviors—moodiness, a lack of interest in pleasurable activities, fatigue, sleep changes or difficult concentrating—3 times weekly for two straight weeks, s/he is likely to be depressed and requires a professional evaluation, according to NAMI. NAMI then uses slippery slope logic and the impending threat of suicide—employing fear—as impetus to encourage parents to pre-diagnose their children’s so-called risky behaviors. In fact, the cited research does not support the claim that at-risk behavior is linked to suicide. 10 Here, NAMI falsely links symptoms with suicidal risk, and again, collapses major depression with common youth behaviors that don’t constitute any disorder at all. Like the dominant depression script, a coherent and reasonable presentation behaviors that contribute to the illness. NAMI is thus maintaining that the illness is essentially biological, while short-term therapy treats only symptoms and not the “causes” of depression. (NAMI, 1999) 10 NAMI cites a study contending that suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds (approximately 5,000 young people) and the sixth leading cause of death for five to 15 year olds. The rate of suicide for five to 24 year olds is said to have nearly tripled since 1960. (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry [AACAP], 1995.) The study does not, however, link depression with suicide. The study cited concludes that once a young person has experienced a major depression, (my Italics), he or she is at risk of developing another depression within the next five years. ( http://www.nami.org/helpline/depression-child.html ) The study is in fact noted as concluding that high rates of youth depression does not link depressive symptoms with suicide.

Authors: Gardner, Paula.
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9
contend that children’s depressed symptoms are linked to sick brains, despite that psychiatrists have been
hesitant to diagnose this “population” with mental illness given children’s rapidly changing development
and resulting fluctuations in behaviors. Based on claims that 1/33 children and 1/8 adolescents are
depressed (http://www.nami.org/helpline/depression-child.html), NAMI promotes a broad-spectrum
diagnostic mode to catch children at risk before they slip into major depression. The Website deploys
sensationalist language, referring to children with depressed symptoms as “children with brain disorders.”
(
http://www.nami.org/update/unitedchildren.html.
).
Like the standard depression script, NAMI links risk with mental disorder. The organization
suggests that common youth behaviors are warning signs of depression, including “poor performance in
school, loss of interest in activities and people previously enjoyed, sleep problems, obsession about or lack
of interest in appearance or weight, or unexplained fears.” (
http://www.nami.org/youth/index.html
) The
Website provides an assessment tool (
http://www.nami.org/youth/whatmtr.html
) to facilitate caregivers’
surveillance of their children for possible depression. If the child demonstrates some of the following
behaviors—moodiness, a lack of interest in pleasurable activities, fatigue, sleep changes or difficult
concentrating—3 times weekly for two straight weeks, s/he is likely to be depressed and requires a
professional evaluation, according to NAMI.
NAMI then uses slippery slope logic and the impending threat of suicide—employing fear—as
impetus to encourage parents to pre-diagnose their children’s so-called risky behaviors. In fact, the cited
research does not support the claim that at-risk behavior is linked to suicide.
10
Here, NAMI falsely links
symptoms with suicidal risk, and again, collapses major depression with common youth behaviors that don’t
constitute any disorder at all. Like the dominant depression script, a coherent and reasonable presentation
behaviors that contribute to the illness. NAMI is thus maintaining that the illness is essentially biological,
while short-term therapy treats only symptoms and not the “causes” of depression. (NAMI, 1999)
10
NAMI cites a study contending that suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds
(approximately 5,000 young people) and the sixth leading cause of death for five to 15 year olds. The rate of
suicide for five to 24 year olds is said to have nearly tripled since 1960. (American Academy of Child &
Adolescent Psychiatry [AACAP], 1995.) The study does not, however, link depression with suicide. The
study cited concludes that once a young person has experienced a major depression, (my Italics), he or she
is at risk of developing another depression within the next five years.
(
http://www.nami.org/helpline/depression-child.html
) The study is in fact noted as concluding that high
rates of youth depression does not link depressive symptoms with suicide.


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