HEADACHES IN CHILDREN SHOULD NOT BE DISMISSED!
One out of 4 children will have complained of headache pain before the age of 15. Parents often dismiss headache complaints by children, or merely address the problem with a painkiller and a nap, not knowing their child may be on a path to a lifetime of suffering migraines.
Childhood migraines are often different than adult migraines. While adult migraines often last four hours or more, and settle on one side of the head, in a child, a migraine may last for as little as one hour up to 72 hours and the pain is often felt across the front of the forehead or on both temples rather than on just one side.
As a result, childhood migraines are often dismissed as sinus headaches. Some pediatric migraines don’t involve headache pain at all. Instead, the child may have abdominal pain, vomiting or feelings of vertigo.
If a child is suffering headaches, parents should be on the lookout for signs of migraine and also signs of depression as the two continue to be linked by scientific studies.
If you have a child suffering migraines, below is an article well worth reading posted earlier (2009) on the website Health24. Following the article will be a list of migraine and depression symptoms.
Migraines Linked to Depression in Children
March 3, 2009 – Health24
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in the USA has published new data that proves a link between children suffering from migraine and emotional disorders like depression. According to the study, “children suffering from migraines are at risk of developing emotional and behavioural problems such as depression and anxiety”.
The study, published in the latest edition of the medical journal Headache, tested child functioning with comparison to children who are not experiencing headaches or migraines. The results showed that children suffering from migraines were “demonstrating significant elevations in total behaviour problems and internalizing symptoms, including somatic complaints, anxiety and depression, and aggressive behaviour”.
According to Dr Elliot Shevel, South Africa’s migraine surgery pioneer, it is vital that parents do not dismiss headache complaints in children without proper investigation.
“Young children believe everything the parent says.” stated Shevel. “If you tell your child ‘you’re just making this up’ your child will believe you and start internalizing self-blame. Internalizing this self-blame for a medical condition over which the child has no control has been shown to cause serious psychological and emotional problems for the child.”
There is therefore a great deal of concern regarding the emotional–well-being of children with migraine, as these disturbances can result in children being misdiagnosed with depression, without proper treatment of their headache or migraine problem.
Headaches affect children’s lives
This new groundbreaking study was a result of numerous calls made by the international headache community for rigorous research to help clarify the association of pediatric migraine with emotional and behavioural outcomes. The study is groundbreaking in this respect as the data was verified by the use of a control group of families recruited from among classmates of the children suffering from migraines.
In an interview from Berlin where he is conducting research, Shevel stated that “The prevalence of pediatric headache was determined in a study published in the British Medical Journal in 1994. According to the statistics about 10% of children suffer with headaches that seriously affect the quality of their lives.
“This new research is also a multi-centre study,” states Shevel “which means that data was collected simultaneously from three leading children’s hospitals across the USA. So the data is incredibly robust and reliable.
“Self-reporting by the child was tabled against data collected from both parents,” explains Shevel further. This was another essential breakthrough in the research, as according to the study “children coping with chronic health conditions may be reluctant to acknowledge or disclose emotional distress”.
Long-term damage if not treated
“We’re relieved that after 16 years treating children with migraine at The Headache Clinic our experience of the psychological consequences of the condition has been validated by the contents of this powerful research. Parents who do not take children’s headache and migraine complaints seriously risk causing long-term emotional damage to their child. Parents must remember that children suffer just as severely as adults if they are afflicted with this condition.”
SYMPTOMS OF CHILD MIGRAINE – MAYO CLINIC
Migraines can cause:
- Head pain
- Abdominal pain
- Extreme sensitivity to light and sound
Cоmpаrablе to the сlаssіс migrаinеs іn аdults, сhildrеn саn alѕo experienсе mild tо ѕeverе dіsсоmfоrt or рaіn in thе еye arеa, tеmpleѕ and forehead.The aсutenesѕ оf рaіn сan differ as well. It іs іmрeratіve tо loоk for signѕ оf paіn lіke іrritabіlіty, uncontrоllаble сryіng, facіal grimaсіng аnd frоwning
DEPRESSION IN CHILDREN – SIGNS & SYMPTOMS (WebMD)
The symptoms of depression in children vary. It is often undiagnosed and untreated because they are passed off as normal emotional and psychological changes that occur during growth. Early medical studies focused on “masked” depression, where a child’s depressed mood was evidenced by acting out or angry behavior. While this does occur, particularly in younger children, many children display sadness or low mood similar to adults who are depressed. The primary symptoms of depression revolve around sadness, a feeling of hopelessness, and mood changes.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Irritability or anger.
- Continuous feelings of sadness, hopelessness.
- Social withdrawal.
- Increased sensitivity to rejection.
- Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased.
- Changes in sleep — sleeplessness or excessive sleep.
- Vocal outbursts or crying.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Fatigue and low energy.
- Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headachesat do not respond to treatment
- Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests.
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
- Impaired thinking or concentration.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
Not all children have all of these symptoms. In fact, most will display different symptoms at different times and in different settings. Although some children may continue to function reasonably well in structured environments, most kids with significant depression will suffer a noticeable change in social activities, loss of interest in school and poor academic performance, or a change in appearance. Children may also begin using drugs or alcohol, especially if they are over the age of 12.
Childhood depression is different from the normal “blues” and everyday emotions that occur as a child develops. Just because a child seems sad, this does not necessarily mean he or she has significant depression. If the sadness becomes persistent, or if disruptive behavior that interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, or family life develops, it may indicate that he or she has a depressive illness.
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