Teen depression

Depression is defined as an illness when the feelings of depression persist and interfere with a child or adolescent’s ability to function. It affects about 55 of children and adolescents at any given moment. Children under stress, who experience loss, or who have attentional, learning, conduct or anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for depression. Depression also tends to run in families. Parents, caregivers, teachers and the whole family should always keep a watchful eye on teens in order to spot the signs of depression, some of them more subtle than others. Here is a list of the things to look for:

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
  • Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
  • Hopelessness
  • Persistent boredom; low energy
  • Social isolation, poor communication
  • Low self esteem and guilt
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
  • Poor concentration
  • A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Talk of or efforts to run away from home
  • Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self destructive behavior

These are all symptoms of a deeper problem that is affecting the child that needs to be fixed. Depression is a real illness that requires professional help. Comprehensive treatment often includes both individual and family therapy. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) are forms of individual therapy shown to be effective in treating depression. Treatment may also include the use of antidepressant medication. For help, parents should ask their physician to refer them to a qualified mental health professional, who can diagnose and treat depression in children and teenagers.

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