Friday, February 27, 2015

DEPRESSION AND YOUR CHILD by Deborah Serani: A Review

A Guide For Parents And Caregivers
Author: Deborah Serani
Published by: Rowman & Littlefield, September 2013
Hardcover, 232 pages
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About the book

Seeing your child suffer in any way is a harrowing experience for any parent. Mental illness in children can be particularly draining due to the mystery surrounding it, and the issue of diagnosis at such a tender age. 

"Depression and Your Child" gives parents and caregivers a uniquely textured understanding of pediatric depression, its causes, its symptoms, and its treatments. Serani weaves her own personal experiences of being a depressed child along with her clinical experiences as a psychologist treating depressed children. Current research, treatments and trends are presented in easy to understand language and tough subjects like self-harm, suicide and recovery plans are addressed with supportive direction. Parents will learn tips on how to discipline a depressed child, what to expect from traditional treatments like psychotherapy and medication, how to use holistic methods to address depression, how to avoid caregiver burnout, and how to move through the trauma of diagnosis and plan for the future. 

Real life cases highlight the issues addressed in each chapter and resources and a glossary help to further understanding for those seeking additional information. Parents and caregivers are sure to find here a reassuring approach to childhood depression that highlights the needs of the child even while it emphasizes the need for caregivers to care for themselves and other family members as well.

My review

Up until recent years, children were believed to be unable to experience depression. Studies suggested that kids and teenagers didn't even have the emotional capacity or cognitive development to experience sadness, helplessness, and despair. Still to this day, childhood is generally associated with the idea of carefree innocence and when our little ones go through mood changes, we tend to consider such changes just as emotional conditions typical of that age (the terrible twos and threes, puberty, the teen age years), or simply as phases our children will eventually outgrow.

On the contrary, children and adolescents are as much capable of mood swings, negative thoughts, and hopelessness as adults are. They even tend to show their emotional disorder in more varied and complex behavioral ways - irritability, cranky mood, physical symptoms, self-attitude. Today, we have evidence that not only children, but even babies can experience depression. Statistics are alarming:

- In the US alone, 4 percent of pre-school aged children, 5 percent of school aged children, and 11 percent of adolescents  meet the criteria for major depression.

- Depressive disorders affect approximately 11.2 percent of thirteen-to-eighteen-year-olds, but only one in five teens receives help, due to lack of information, lack of awareness, or fear of social stigma. Unfortunately, depression in adolescents is frequently confused with that angst that accompanies those years. We expect it, we take it for granted, we dismiss it as a passing phase. Then tragedy strikes.

- Depression-induced self-harm (a deliberate behavior in which a child inflicts physical harm on her body to relieve emotional distress) occurs in 15 percent of children and teens.

- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among children age 10 to 24. It is a significant risk for anyone affected by a mental illness, and it is exponentially higher for children with depression.

Depression And Your Child by Deborah Serani instructs parents and caregivers in the normative patterns and stages of children development, offers the keys to identify the illness, and helps spot potential concerns: the section covering diagnosis and medical treatments, both traditional and holistic in their approach, is extensive and highly informative.  Possibly, the most insightful, articulated, and compassionate parenting guide I have ever read. While robust in its clinical references to diagnosis and treatment of depression in children and adolescents, Serani's book never fails to be engaging and approachable. The author's expert and eloquent voice is infused with kindness and reassuring hope: it really adds a much needed quality of humanity to an often overlooked and underestimated issue. 5 bright stars!

***Review copy graciously offered by the author in exchange for an unbiased and honest opinion

About the author

Dr. Deborah Serani is the author of the award-winning books "Living with Depression" and "Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers" published by Rowman & Littlefield. What makes her books so unique is that she knows what it's like to live with depression personally, and how to treat it professionally.

Dr. Deborah Serani is an adjunct professor at Adelphi University and a go-to media expert. She writes the "Ask the Therapist" column in Esperanza Magazine, and blogs for "Psychology Today." Dr. Serani's interviews can be found in Newsday, Womens Health and Fitness, The Chicago Tribune, Scientific American Mind, The Associated Press, and affiliate radio station programs at CBS and NPR, just to name a few. 

Dr. Serani has also worked as a technical advisor for the NBC television show Law & Order: Special Victims


  1. Thank you so much for featuring my work and reviewing my book 'Depression and Your Child."

    Might I ask if you could include your wonderful review at Amazon. It really helps others find my work.

  2. No problem! It will be my pleasure.