Many of us think of teen years as moody, turbulent ones. While it is true that most teenagers have emotional ups and downs, recent research suggests that such moodiness isn't necessarily a normal part of the teen years. In fact, teens who seem sad or down for more than a few weeks may actually be experiencing depression. It is estimated that between 11 percent and 14 percent of adolescents are clinically depressed. Don’t ignore behavior changes or write them off as phases of adolescence. If you notice any of the following symptoms, consider the possibility that the teen may be depressed and try to get help.
Teens' families and friends may be the first to notice the warning signs of depression.
A depressed teenager may:
Depressed teens seldom recognize their need for treatment. For this reason, parents, friends, educators, and others involved with teens are the best hope depressed teens have of getting help. The risk of suicide associated with depression makes this illness a life-threatening one that demands immediate professional attention. Take a teen's talk of suicide seriously! If you see any of the above symptoms, here's how you can help:
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Hankin, B. 2006. Adolescent depression: Description, causes, and interventions. Epilepsy & Behavior, 8, 102-114.
Hess, S., Cox, T., Gonzales, L., Kastelic, E., Mond, S., Rose, L., and Swartz. K. 2004. A Survey of Adolescents’ Knowledge about Depression. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 18 (5), 223-234.
Keenan-Miller, D., Hammen, C., and Brennan, P. 2007. Health outcomes related to early adolescent depression. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, 256-262.
The National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/depression-in-children-and-adolescents.shtml
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), 1-800-950-NAMI www.nami.org
The Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association www.med.jhu.edu/drada/
Psychology Information Online www.psychologyinfo.com
Virginia Department of Health (1998). An assessment of child and adolescent hospitalizations in Virginia. Richmond VA.
Original publication by Erin Morgan, Research Associate, Human Development; and Angela Huebner, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Human Development; Virginia Tech.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
May 1, 2009