Pediatric behavioral neurology: an update on the neurologic aspects of depression, hyperactivity, and learning disabilities.

The high incidence of poor social adjustment in long-term follow-up studies of depressed children seems to relate to the inadequacy of the pharmacotherapy necessary to sustain long-lasting remission or possibly to repetitive inappropriate stresses. Insufficient antidepressant therapy with resultant intermittent depression-induced dysfunction of the socialization functions performed by the right cerebral hemisphere would not permit the child to develop appropriate interpersonal skills (causing failure in most social situations), and associated cognitive difficulties would complicate academic performance. Repeated school failure and chronic social ineptitude preclude development of the skills necessary for successful independent living in society. Thus, if symptoms of depression are found, it is imperative that the learning-disabled or behaviorally disturbed child or adolescent receive adequate antidepressant therapy to ensure complete long-term remission of the depression. In addition, learning-disabled individuals, even without apparent diagnosable depressive illness, must be offered appropriate methods for learning and communication which reduce stress. When such appropriate educational strategies are offered and poor performance still ensues (or continues), a trial of antidepressant therapy should be considered. Recognition of the depressive nature of symptoms may not be possible until treatment-induced improvement has occurred and depression-associated learning disability has resolved. Improvement in academic performance associated with improved cognitive function after treatment-induced remission of a depressive episode can be dramatic, with resolution of apparent learning disability. Poor educational achievement associated with chronic learning difficulties ultimately affects adult social functioning, and untreated or improperly treated chronic depression may result in the development of later personality disturbances. Therefore, before attributing school problems in children to untreatable conditions, depressive disorder must be excluded, and appropriate antidepressant therapy (along with removal of all apparent inappropriate stress, including inappropriate demands on brain function) should be provided to children and adolescents with evidence of depression.
AuthorsR A Brumback, W A Weinberg
JournalNeurologic clinics (Neurol Clin) Vol. 8 Issue 3 Pg. 677-703 (Aug 1990) ISSN: 0733-8619 [Print] UNITED STATES
PMID2215463 (Publication Type: Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't, Review)
Chemical References
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents (therapeutic use)
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (diagnosis)
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders (diagnosis)
  • Depressive Disorder (diagnosis)
  • Humans
  • Learning Disorders (diagnosis)
  • Neurocognitive Disorders (diagnosis)

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