The September 2009 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry published the results of a study that dates back to the 1980's when almost more than 700 teenagers with mild depression were followed until very recently. The findings were that those with mild depression during their adolescent years were very likely to develop Major Depression, Eating Disorders and Anxiety Disorders as adults.
The researchers emphasize the importance of parents, teachers and other adults being aware of what is happening to these adolescents. Early detection of problems, intervention with adult guidance that might include psychotherapy, can help these young people move through a difficult period without dire consequences. These dire consequences can include suicide attempts.
It can be difficult for adults to recognize depression in a teenager because it is not uncommon for them to be moody from time to time. Here is a check list of symptoms that, if they persist for two weeks or more, should call for action:
Symptoms Check List:
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1. Poor performance in school (If that represents a real
2. Withdrawal from friends and activities both social and athletic.
3. Sadness and hopelessness.
4. Lack of enthusiasm, energy or motivation.
5. Anger and rage.
6. Overreaction to criticism.
7. Complaints of being unable to satisfy ideals.
8. Poor self-esteem or guilt.
9. Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness.
10. Restlessness and agitation.
11. Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
12. Substance abuse including alcohol use.
13. Problems with authority, at school and with police.
14. Suicidal thoughts or actions.
At present it is estimated that one out of every five teenagers is depressed.
It is important for parents to be alert to their teenage children, making certain that they are listening to what they are saying, how they are behaving and how they are appearing.
Any real departures in the ways in which they behave or talk about the way they feel should be taken as a warning sign of possible trouble. It is important to be aware of what is happening at school and in the community.
Help is available for troubled teens through the school counseling or psychology program, community mental health centers, counseling services available through local houses of worship or by speaking to your family doctor in search of private mental health treatment.
Please note: It is entirely possible that a depressed adolescent is already suffering from Major Depression or Bipolar Disorder. Either one of these are serious and that is why teenage depression should not be dismissed, nor should their complaints about their lives.
A good resource if you are worried about suicide is the suicide HotLine at: 1800 273- 8255.
Your comments and questions are always welcome and encouraged.