Depression is a growing problem among adolescents.  Some surveys show that as many as 1 in 5 teenagers have symptoms of depression.   Adolescence is a difficult time for many teens, with pressures at home and school and with friends.  It is common for teenagers to be moody and parents can miss the warning signs that their teen may be depressed.   Often, teenagers themselves are not even aware that they are depressed.  Undiagnosed or untreated depression in teens can lead to problems in school and relationships, risky behaviors, drug or alcohol use or possibly even suicide.  These symptoms can be signs of depression, particularly if they have been present for two weeks or more:

  • Poor performance in school
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Anger and rage
  • Overreaction to criticism
  • Lack of energy, enthusiasm or motivation
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Having thoughts about  hurting yourself or death
  • Concentration problems, forgetfulness, distractibility
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Problems with authority
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns

These symptoms, if present, need to be discussed with a physician as soon as possible.   Remember, teens often don’t ask for help themselves so it is often up to adults to encourage them to seek help.

Teenage Suicide:

Every year, almost 5,000 young people between the ages of 15-24 years, kill themselves.  Sadly, this number has tripled since 1960, making suicide the 3rd leading cause of death in adolescents.  Suicide attempts may be triggered by a specific event, but not always.  Teens may perceive situations as permanent, even though they may be temporary.  This may make them feel desperate, angry, impulsive and even self-destructive.    Warning signs that a teen may be contemplating suicide can include:

  • Suicide threats, direct and indirect
  • Obsession with death
  • Poems, essays and drawings that refer to death
  • Giving away belongings
  • Dramatic change in personality or appearance
  • Irrational, bizarre behavior
  • Overwhelming sense of guilt, shame or rejection
  • Changed eating or sleeping patterns
  • Severe drop in school performance
  • Giving away belongings

If you or someone you know is thinking about hurting himself/herself, hurting someone else or committing suicide, let someone know immediately.

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