While children may get routine health checkups, mental health checkups are not as common. Could mental health checkups prevent future severe disorders? According to this article, by the age of 25, 15 percent of children previously studied were taking some kind of psychotropic drug and 12 percent had taken antidepressants.
In his study, David Gyllenberg, MD, re-examined the mental wellbeing of nearly 6,000 Finnish children previously studied through a survey in 1989. Gyllenberg followed up by examining the same children’s use of psychotropic medication and psychiatric hospital periods. It was found that their use of psychotropic drugs and need for hospital treatment were linked with symptoms reported in the 1981 survey. In addition, symptoms of depression at the earlier age was linked to later treatment of depression in boys and girls.
It’s important to consider the predictive values different between boys and girls. The article also notes in predicting later use of psychotropic medication and need of psychiatric care, girls showed more symptoms of depression and anxiety in childhood. Meanwhile, boys showed behavioral problems such as acting out, aggressive behavior and stealing.
Although more research is needed before systematic mental health screenings, it can be carefully considered as a way to prevent severe mental disorders.
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