Does your teen have a mental health problem?Everyone has normal ups and downs, and sadness when relationships aren’t going as expected. Some people are at risk for a medical illness called depression.
There are two main symptoms of depression:
Sad or Irritable mood, most of the day, nearly every day and/or loss of enjoyment in most or all activities. These symptoms are concerning if they last more than two weeks.
When teenagers are depressed, they view themselves and the world in a negative way. Some examples of thinking problems:
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt.
- Difficulty making decisions, and poor concentration.
- Suicidal feelings.
Teenagers with depression can also experience physical changes. Here are some examples:
- Sleep changes: Sleeping too much or too little.
- Feeling agitated, and physically slowed down.
- Fatigue “I am tired all the time.”
- Appetite changes: Eating all the time, or decreased eating.
A mental-health professional can make the diagnosis, and help the family and teenager to decide on the best treatment. Biology and stressful events can both worsen depression, so taking a good history from the teen and his/her parents can help the professional design a treatment plan—so he/she can feel better again. The two most common treatments are talk therapy, and/or medication. There are people out there who want to help! To access help, the teenager or someone else will have to talk with the parents. Only a parent can schedule an appointment for a depressed teenager.
If a teenager has a friend who has depression, especially if the friend is having suicidal feelings, attempts should be made to get the friend to tell his/her parents. If not, a teenager may have to risk a friendship by getting help for a friend. Hopefully, teenagers will choose to break a secret and risk the friendship, if needed, to save a life.
A good website on teen depression—
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800- 273 –TALK (8255)