How To Recognize Adolescent Depression
According to WebMD.com, adolescent depression affects about 1 out of every 33 children, including one out of every 8 adolescent. It is normal for your child to feel feelings of sadness, and to even have times of sadness that they can’t really explain the cause of. It begins to warrant a closer look once those periods start to last for longer than two weeks, or if your child starts to display other signs of clinical depression.
Depression is not just a state of mind; it is a medical illness and can be treated. Failure to seek treatment can be devastating. It has been estimated that of those that are diagnosed with depression, one in ten will be successful at committing suicide. Among the 15 to 24 age bracket, suicide is listed as the third leading cause of death. Female adolescents are three times more likely to attempt suicide, while their male counterparts are five times more likely to succeed. Most statistics put the rates of suicide among adolescents at between 7 and 10 per 100,000.
If you are concerned about whether or not your child could be depressed there are signs that you can look for. Watch for a sudden change from being very sad, to appearing to be happy and very calm. Many suicidal people display such calmness after they have resigned themselves to committing suicide. Be aware if they seem to consistently think about or talk about death. Does your child take unnecessary risks, sometimes described as “having a death wish”? Be aware of your child describes feelings of hopelessness and despair. A sudden lack of interest in activities that your child used to enjoy can also be a sign of depression.
If your child displays any of these signs, it is necessary to seek medical help to rule out depression as the cause. Sometimes symptoms can be caused by other causes, such as certain medications that your child takes, various viruses, and other illnesses. Diagnosis will begin with a physical examination by a medical doctor. The doctor will need to know when the symptoms began, how long they have persisted, and the severity of the symptoms. Encourage your child to not be embarrassed and to give as honest answers to the doctor as he can. You will need to recall when you first noticed the symptoms also.
The doctor will also examine your child’s history. Has he been diagnosed in the past and was treatment provided? Has there been any evidence of drug or alcohol abuse? Your family history of mental illness including depression will also be taken into account because there is evidence that heredity can play a role in determining how susceptible your child is to depression.
Unfortunately there is no test that can be administered to conclusively diagnose depression, so it is very important that the doctor has the most accurate information to base his diagnosis on.
Adolescent depression is a serious disease and needs to be taken seriously. Do not assume that your child is just seeking attention if he talks about or threatens suicide. Seek help immediately, either through your local suicide hotline, or through your family doctor. Your child’s life may be dependent on it.
You can learn so much more in our online guide here What is Depression? and also get our free book download about how to help improve your mental health and wellbeing.
We wish you well in your search for solutions and your movement towards better health in all areas.
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