NBC News: "One in five American children, ages 3-17 have a diagnosable mental health disorder"

Dec 10, 2017, NBC News: Generation at risk: America’s youngest facing mental health crisis … Alex was diagnosed with major depression and anxiety. Now 16, she is in therapy and on medication. She’s far from alone. There is an acute health crisis happening among members of the youngest generation of Americans, with critical implications for the country's future. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports one in five American children, ages 3 through 17 — some 15 million — have a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral disorder in a given year. Only 20 percent of these children are ever diagnosed and receive treatment; 80 percent — some 12 million — are not receiving treatment. Recent research indicates serious depression is worsening in teens, especially girls and the suicide rate among girls reached a 40-year high in 2015, according to a CDC report released in August. … Is your toddler depressed? Mental health problems may actually start much earlier than previously thought. A toddler who is crying for hours and angrily stomping his feet may not be having a temper tantrum, but showing signs of depression. Research suggests 1 to 2 percent of children 2 to 5 years old have depression, said Dr. Joan Luby, director of the Early Emotional Development program at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and a pioneer in the study of the condition in preschoolers. She believes untreated depression in toddlers can lead to more depression later in life. … Vickey Harper of St. Louis became worried when her 2-year-old daughter Myla began having “scary” tantrums that sometimes lasted almost an hour. The girl would scream, kick and hit her mother in the face. “My gut was just telling me that something was not right,” Harper said. Mental illness runs in the family, but she was surprised when doctors suggested Myla had depression. … Teens are known for their moodiness, and adolescence — a particularly turbulent time of life — is actually one of the most vulnerable periods to develop anxiety and depression. Some 50 percent of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, according to the American Psychiatric Association. A prevalence to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18. But for teens like Alex Crotty, depression is very different than adolescent angst, Koplewicz said. “Teenagers have a different kind of depression. They don't seem sad, they seem irritable,” he noted. “This really has an effect on your concentration, which will affect school; it will affect your desire to continue playing sports, it'll affect your desire of being with your friends.” Warning signs also include the duration and the degree of symptoms, he said. Take notice if your teen is experiencing moodiness or irritability for more than two weeks and it's occurring every day, for most of the day, plus you see a change in sleep patterns and a change in desire to work and socialize. Teenagers also think about suicide more often — and 5,000 young people actually take their own lives every year in the U.S., Koplewicz added. After medication and therapy, Alex is doing great. “I am so much stronger after coming out of this,” she said, urging other kids to speak up. “If you always feel like something's wrong, talk to somebody. If you feel like you're blaming things on yourself all the time, talk to somebody. Just if things don't feel good, talk to somebody.”