From 2007 to 2015 research on emergency room visits due to attempted suicides in teenagers has shown that it has doubled in those 7 years. Those of us who deal with teenagers in schools and clinics have become intensely aware of the increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression in our teenagers. Much of this is due to toxic stress and our inability to create interventions and strategies early in their lives to prevent the spiraling effect of these symptoms.
Scans of brain activity in seven-year-olds are helping Northeastern University researchers predict symptoms of depression, anxiety, and attentional problems in teenagers. Their research is published in an article by Roberto Molar Candanosa. Here is a quote from the article:
“Our brains consist of different regions that support the cognitive functions we need to survive. But none of these regions work alone. They receive and send input at all times, firing cells in other parts within the brain, and creating the patterns of synchronized activity behind our thoughts, feelings, and actions.”
“Researchers are imaging these patterns to predict how symptoms of psychiatric disorders develop in teenagers. Their new prediction model offers an important tool to address anxiety and depression in the U.S.”
“In a recent study, which was a collaboration among Northeastern, the University of California at Berkeley, and Vanderbilt University, the researchers identified specific patterns of activity in the brains of children, and predicted how symptoms of depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity progress.”
Although this research is recent it has hopeful implications that we will be able to see in the imaging of the brain how these symptoms develop. If we can refine this process and make it available, it may provide new options for treatment and/or interventions that can possibly prevent further development of these symptoms. This is so encouraging and something that we will be watching carefully to see what the next steps are in the research.
It is exciting to see new neuroscientific research that promises to be instructive and diagnostic in that it may give us new tools for diagnosis, prevention and intervention. I appreciate those who are conducting this very sophisticated research that can possibly benefit thousands of children and teenagers, and their future, as well as their families.