Adolescent Depression by dffhrtcv3


									                                                                                                                                                             publication 350-851

                                  Adolescent Depression
                             Novella Ruffin, Extension Specialist, Virginia State University

Many of us think of teen years as moody, turbulent ones.                                      •	 Attempt to isolate themselves from friends and fam-
While it is true that most teenagers have emotional ups                                          ily members with whom they used to share their
and downs, recent research suggests that such moodi-                                             feelings.
ness isn’t necessarily a normal part of the teen years.
In fact, teens who seem sad or down for more than a                                           •	 Be supersensitive to criticism or rejection.
few weeks may actually be experiencing depression.                                            •	 Complain of headaches, stomachaches, or other
It is estimated that between 11 percent and 14 percent                                           physical problems frequently.
of adolescents are clinically depressed. Don’t ignore
behavior changes or write them off as phases of ado-                                          •	 Eat or sleep much more or less than usual.
lescence. If you notice any of the following symptoms,
consider the possibility that the teen may be depressed                                       •	 Talk about or try to run away from home.
and try to get help.                                                                          •	 Mention thinking about suicide.

Signs and Symptoms                                                                            Understanding Depression
Teens’ families and friends may be the first to notice                                        •	 Depression is a serious mental illness caused by a
the warning signs of depression.                                                                 combination of genetic, biological, psychological,
                                                                                                 and environmental factors.
A depressed teenager may:
                                                                                              •	 Depression is more than just feeling down or sad for a
•	 Seem very sad or cry frequently.
                                                                                                 day or two; it is a persistent and deep state of unhap-
•	 Become more angry, irritable, or hostile.                                                     piness, lack of interest in life and activities, and low
                                                                                                 energy or boredom.
•	 Begin or increase their use of drugs and alcohol.
                                                                                              •	 Depression is a major risk factor for suicide.
•	 Become obsessed with poetry or music with morbid
   themes.                                                                                    •	 Treatment for depression is very effective, but
                                                                                                 many teens are not diagnosed and, therefore, suffer
•	 Lose interest in things that were previously enjoyed,                                         untreated.
   become apathetic, or drop out of sports or other
   activities.                                                                                •	 In Virginia, depression is the leading cause of hospi-
                                                                                                 talization for children ages 10 to 14 and the second
•	 Feel a sense of hopelessness, that life is not worth                                          leading cause for adolescents ages 15 to 19.
   living, or that nothing will ever change.
                                                                                              •	 Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adoles-
•	 Miss school frequently or begin to do worse in                                                cents in the commonwealth.
                                                                                              •	 Teens under stress, those who experience loss, or who
•	 Be bored all the time, or not seem able to concen-                                            have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
   trate on schoolwork, a conversation, or even watch-                                           or conduct or anxiety disorders are at higher risk.
   ing TV.                                                                                       Teenage girls and minorities are also at greater risk.
                                     Produced by Communications and Marketing, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,
                                                   Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2009
                            Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion,
                            age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.
                            Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University,
                            and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Mark A. McCann, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech,
                                             Blacksburg; Alma C. Hobbs, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
•	 Teens questioning their sexual orientation are at par-          References
   ticular risk for suicide.
                                                                   Crowe, M., Ward, N., Dunnachie, B., and Roberts, ___.
•	 Teens who live in adoptive families may also be at              2006. Characteristics of adolescent depression. Inter-
   higher risk for suicide.                                        national Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 15, 10-18.

•	 Most teens that have one episode of depression will             Hankin, B. 2006. Adolescent depression: Description,
   have more at some point later in life.                          causes, and interventions. Epilepsy & Behavior, 8,

What Can You Do?                                                   Hess, S., Cox, T., Gonzales, L., Kastelic, E., Mond, S.,
                                                                   Rose, L., and Swartz. K. 2004. A Survey of Adoles-
Depressed teens seldom recognize their need for treat-
                                                                   cents’ Knowledge about Depression. Archives of Psy-
ment. For this reason, parents, friends, educators, and
                                                                   chiatric Nursing, 18 (5), 223-234.
others involved with teens are the best hope depressed
teens have of getting help. The risk of suicide associ-            Keenan-Miller, D., Hammen, C., and Brennan, P. 2007.
ated with depression makes this illness a life-threaten-           Health outcomes related to early adolescent depression.
ing one that demands immediate professional attention.             Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, 256-262.
Take a teen’s talk of suicide seriously! If you see any of
the above symptoms, here’s how you can help:
•	 Pay attention. If you live with, teach, or mentor a
   teen, you are one of the people who are most likely             The National Institute of Mental Health,
   to notice signs of depression. It’s up to you to take 
   appropriate action.
                                                                   The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI),
•	 Talk with the teen. A first step is to talk with the            (800) 950-NAMI,
   teen, to let him or her know that you’ve noticed the
                                                                   The Depression and Related Affective Disorders Asso-
   change in behavior, and to offer to listen. Tell the teen
   that you’re concerned and that you’d like to help.
                                                                   Psychology Information Online, www.psychologyinfo.
•	 Share your information with others. Compare
   notes with others who are in contact with the teen.
   Are they seeing the same behavior changes?                      Virginia Department of Health. 1998. An assessment of
                                                                   child and adolescent hospitalizations in Virginia. Rich-
•	 Learn about resources in your area. Let the teen
                                                                   mond Va.
   know that there is treatment for depression that
   works. Find out about the mental health resources               Original publication by Erin Morgan, Research Asso-
   available in your area. A professional therapist can            ciate, Human Development; and Angela Huebner,
   recommend the right treatment combination. This                 Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Human
   could include diet, exercise, and sleep modifications,          Development; Virginia Tech.
   or medication combined with counseling. Offer to
   make an appointment and accompany the teen to his
   or her first visit.

•	 Stay involved. Stress to the teen that he doesn’t
   have to feel this way, and that he doesn’t have to go
   through it alone. Teens need your involvement and
   your support.


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