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FC Home Mental Illness in Children Depression & Teens

DEPRESSION & TEENS | Print |

The information below is reprinted from the website WebMD.  If you wish to learn more about depression and teens, please visit their website at www.webmd.com.  If you have concerns about your child's behavioral health and wish to talk with someone, or have your child undergo an evaluation, please contact the Fulton County Oak Hill Child, Adolescent & Family Center at (404) 612-4111.  Please do not try to make a diagnosis regarding an individual's behavior.  If you have concerns, please contact us and talk with one of our behavioral health specialists.

The facility provides behavioral health services to youth between the ages of 0 to 21 years old, and is operated by the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities.   Below is information on depression and teens from the WebMD website:

DEPRESSION & TEENS

Do you ever wonder whether your irritable or unhappy adolescent might actually be experiencing teen depression?  Most teens feel unhappy at times.  And when you add hormone havoc to the many other changes happening in a teen's life, it is easy to see why their moods swing like a pendulum.   However, according to WebMD, findings show that one out of every eight adolescents has teen depression.  But depression can be treated and the serious problems associated with it.  Therefore, if your teen's unhappiness lasts for more than two weeks, and he/she displays other symptoms of depression, it may be time to seek help from a health professional. 

WHY DO ADOLESCENTS GET DEPRESSION?

There are many reasons why a teenager might become depressed.  For example, teens can develop feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy over their grades.  School performance, social status with peers, sexual orientation, or family life can each have a major effect on how a teen feels.  Sometimes, teen depression may result from environmental stress.  But whatever the cause, when friends or family - or things that the teen usually enjoys - don't help to improve his or her sadness or sense of isolation, there's a good chance that he or she has teen depression.

SYMPTOMS OF TEEN DEPRESSION

According to WebMD, kids with teen depression often have a noticeable change in their thinking and behavior.  They may lack motivation, become withdrawn, and closing their bedroom door after school and staying in their room for hours.   Kids with teen depression may sleep excessively, have a change in eating habits, and may even exhibit criminal behaviors such as DUI or shoplifting.  Other signs of depression in adolescents may include the following:

  • Apathy
  • Complaints of pains, including headaches, stomachaches, low back pain or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Irresponsible behavior - for example, forgetting obligations, being late for classes, skipping school
  • Loss of interest in food or compulsive overeating that results in rapid weight loss or gain
  • Memory loss
  • Preoccupation with death or dying
  • Rebellious behavior
  • Sadness, anxiety, or a feeling of hopelessness
  • Staying awake at night & sleeping during the day
  • Sudden drop in grades
  • Use of alcohol or drugs & promiscuous sexual activity
  • Withdrawal from friends

CAN TEEN DEPRESSION RUN IN FAMILIES?

According to WebMD, the answer is yes.  Depression, which usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30, runs in families.  In fact, teen depression may be more common among adolescents who have a family history of depression.

DIAGNOSING TEEN DEPRESSION

There aren't any specific medical tests that can diagnose depression.  Health care professionals determine if a teen has depression by conducting interviews and psychological tests with the teen and his or her family members, teachers and peers. 

The severity of teen depression and the risk of suicide are determined based on the assessment of these interviews.  Treatment recommendations are also made based on the data collected from the interviews.  The doctor will also look for signs of potentially co-existing psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, mania, or schizophrenia.   The doctor will also assess the teen for risks of suicidal or homicidal behaviors.  Incidences of attempted suicide and self-mutilation is higher in females than males while completed suicide is higher in males.  One of the most vulnerable groups for completed suicide is the 18 to 24 age group.

TREATING DEPRESSION IN TEENS

According to WebMD, there are a variety of methods used to treat depression, including medications and psychotherapy.  Family therapy may be helpful if family conflict is contributing to a teen's depression.  The teen will also need support from family or teachers to help with any school or peer problems.  Occasionally, hospitalization in a psychiatric unit may be required for teenagers with severe depression.  Your mental health care provider will determine the best course of treatment for your teen.

  • The FDA warns that antidepressant medications may¬†increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders.¬† If you have questions, please discuss them with your health care provider.

DOES DEPRESSION MEDICATION WORK FOR TEENS?

According to WebMD, a large number of research trials have shown the effectiveness if depression medications in relieving the symptoms of teen depression. 

THE WARNING SIGNS FOR TEEN SUICIDE

Teen suicide is a serious problem.  Adolescent suicide is a leading cause of death among youth and young adults in the US.  It is estimated that 500,000 teens attempted suicide every year with 5,000 succeeding.  These are epidemic numbers.

Family difficulties, the loss of a loved one, or perceived failures at school or in relationships can all lead to negative feelings and depression.  And teen depression often makes problems seem overwhelming and the associated pain unbearable.  Suicide is an act of desperation and teen depression is often the root cause.  The warning signs of suicide with teen depression include:

  • Expressing hopelessness for the future
  • Giving up on one's self, talking as if no one else cares
  • Preparing for death, giving away favorite possessions, writing good-bye letters, or making a will
  • Starting to use & abuse drugs or alcohol to aid sleep or for relief from their mental anguish
  • Threatening to kill one's self.

If your teenagers displays any of these behaviors, you should seek help from a behavioral health care professional immediately.  Depression carries a high-risk of suicide.  Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very seriously.  Please call the Fulton County Oak Hill Child, Adolescent & Family Center at (404) 612-4111.  Our behavioral health professionals look forward to meeting with you.

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO ALLEVIATE TEEN DEPRESSION?

According to WebMD, there are effective parenting and communication techniques that can help lower the stress level for your teen.  These include the following:

  • When disciplining your teen, replace shame and punishment with positive reinforcement for good behavior.¬† Shame and punishment can make an adolescent feel worthless and inadequate
  • Allow your teenager to make mistakes.¬† Overprotecting or making decisions for teens can be perceived as a lack of faith in their abilities, and cause your teen to feel less confident.
  • Give your teen breathing room.¬† Don't expect teens to do as you say all of the time
  • Do not force your teen down a path that you wanted to follow.¬† Avoid trying to relive your youth through your teen's activities and experiences
  • If you suspect that your teen is depressed, take the time to listen to his or her concerns.¬† Even if you don't think the problem is of real concern, remember that it may feel very real to someone who is growing up.
  • Keep the lines of communication open, even if your teen seems to want to withdraw
  • Try to avoid telling your teen what to do.¬† Instead, listen closely and you may discover more about the issues causing problems.¬†

CAN TEEN DEPRESSION GO AWAY WITHOUT MEDICAL TREATMENT?

According to WebMD, teen depression tends to come and go in episodes.  Once a teenager has one bout of depression, he or she is likely to get depressed again at some point.  The consequence of letting teen depression go untreated can be extremely serious, or even deadly.

GET HELP

If you are concerned that your teen is experiencing feelings of depression, please call the Fulton County Oak Hill Child, Adolescent & Family Center at (404) 612-4111.   

     

 

 

 

 
 

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