Young and Depressed: A 13-year-old boy's journey to overcome depression
POSTED: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 11:00pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 7:42pm
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — It is often thought of as a diagnosis that adults face, but more children in the United Sates are dealing with childhood or teenage depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control website, 2.1 percent of children ages 3-17 suffer from depression.
Ricardo "Richie" Garcia was in 7th grade when he first started dealing with complex emotions that he couldn't understand. Until he was officially diagnosed, it wasn't something his family could understand either.
It was about a year ago when Richie first noticed something was different.
"I just didn't want to go to school. I would tell my Dad, 'I don't want to go,' and I didn't know why," he said.
His parents were going through a divorce. He didn't realize what he was going through was such a serious problem, and neither did his parents.
"It became worse because at school I would cry more," he said and added, "I remember one day my dad was dropping me off and he told me, 'That's it, I don't want you crying.'"
Richie said it wasn't only his parents that were struggling what was happening. He said it felt like a lot of his family members didn't understand either.
"Some of them were like, 'Why were you depressed? Why were you angry, frustrated? Everything's good, why did you have to act that way? We don't understand you, why you're depressed,'" Richie said.
Then one day, it was obvious that something was wrong, "I just told my counselor I was having suicidal thoughts."
That may seem like a shocking statement from a 13-year-old, but Dr. Gerardo Moreira, a psychiatrist who treats children in El Paso, said what Richie was going through isn't all that uncommon.
"Here in El Paso, usually it's about 11-percent rate as far as the frequency of depression in population between 13 and 18 years of age," he said and added, "Parents, really, sometimes they are not really well-equipped, and in a way, we are responsible as a community because we are not providing the education."
Dr. Moreira said there are some signs to look out for.
"When a child is behaving differently, when he's extremely irritable all of a sudden, when he is getting into substance abuse, when he or she doesn't want to go to school, when he's coming to see the school nurse frequently for pains or whatever, I think these are red flags that should be calling parents attention," Moreira said.
Richie said overcoming his depression is something he faces every day.
Adolescent depression can be a very sensitive topic to talk about. That's why we asked Richie why he was willing to be part of our interview.
"I believe that if any kid comes to their parent telling them they're depressed or they feel something's not right to help them out. Sometimes you don't know until your kids end up taking their life," Richie said.
Richie has been diagnosed and is receiving treatment.
Dr. Moreira said most adolescent depression lasts nine to 12 months, but some cases can last up to two to five years. Another startling statistic, once a child has been diagnosed with depression, at least 50-percent of them will relapse within seven years.
Local resources for teenage depression:
Child Crisis Center
2100 N. Stevens St.
El Paso, Texas 79930
Web Address: www.childcrisiselpaso.org
Child Guidance Center
2701 E. Yandell Dr.
El Paso, Texas 79903
El Paso Psychiatric Center
4615 Alameda Ave.
El Paso, Texas 79905