Depression in Teens
As the school year ramps back up, so does the stress level for teenagers. I know I’ve talked about this before, but did you know that Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders in the country and it is on the rise as one of the most serious health concerns facing us? But it’s also the most treatable. (Dr. Kalman Heller, Ph.D)
Societal pressures and academic pressures have always been issues for American teenagers, but teens today are inundated with much more than their parents ever could imagine. Colleges are much more expensive and competitive increasing the pressure to perform more than ever before. High stakes testing can make or break a kid’s academic future, imagine the anxiety this can create in an already anxious child. Social media has given kids a platform to bully without facing their prey. Bullies have always been a problem, but now a photo that 25 years ago could have been burned and contained can become viral in a matter of seconds. Rumors can be spread with the press of a button. The pressures are endless and permanent. Imagine the mistakes you made 25 years ago on the internet. The thought makes me shudder.
So it’s no wonder that depression affects about 1 out of 12 American teenagers. In fact, depressive disorder in adolescents ages 15-18 has tripled since 1960 (NAMI, 2013 http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-in-children-and-adolescents/index.shtml). With this increase in depressive disorder, there has been a major spike in teen suicide. Each year approximately 5,000 teenagers successfully commit suicide, (it should be noted that suicide attempts are not included in this statistic) making it the second leading cause of death in adolescents. This is not okay. Suicide is preventable.
There are many wonderful resources for parents who think their child might be depressed and I strongly encourage you to take depressive disorder seriously. Some, but not all, warning signs are:
- depressed mood,
- loss of interest or pleasure in activities,
- loss of appetite or overeating,
- sleeping a lot or not being able to sleep,
- loss of energy,
- loss of self-esteem,
- problems with concentration,
- suicidal thoughts or attempts.
People rarely have all of these symptoms. You know your child, any change in behavior should be noted. Kids sometimes will compound the underlying depression with substance abuse, drugs/alcohol because it makes them “feel better” for a little while. Also, any suicidal thoughts or attempts should always be taken very seriously. Seek help from a professional immediately. Local psychiatric facilities offer free assessments if you’re not sure of the severity of your child’s depression. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
I’ve linked some wonderful resources on our Helpful Resources page, but all it takes is a quick internet search for Teenage Depression to find some wonderful resources.
The JC Runyon Foundation is a charitable organization that provides collegiate scholarships to students who have been through in-patient psychiatric treatment. Our philosophy is in the spirit of Jack Runyon, we want to help students help themselves. We believe that education is the best way to improve one’s life once healthy, but it’s very expensive. Many times families find that there’s simply no money left over for higher education after all the therapist and hospital bills are paid. That’s where we come in! We have the funds to help pay for some or all tuition fees. Visit our Home Page and Scholarship Information Page for more information.