The Office of Adolescent Health of the Department of Health & Human Services USA reports that 20% of teen males (grades 9-12) and 34% of teen females in Ohio felt sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 or more weeks in a row so that they stopped doing some usual activities during the 12 months before the survey.
“It felt like I was at the bottom of a really deep hole and no amount of trying would get me out,” related a professional woman who had suffered depression. She continued, “I could hardly wait to get through the day so I could get home and be alone. It was hard to focus and concentrate, so school and work was a constant struggle – and that made me feel even worse. I just wanted to stay in bed and sleep all the time. Friends and family said things that they thought would “cheer me up”. At first they would be very understanding and try to help. After a while, though, many people would begin to grow weary and thought I should be able to come out of it. They wondered why – with all of my many blessings – I could be so sad.” It’s common for friends and family to feel helpless or even become impatient.
The turning point came, she says, when, “After several recurring, worsening episodes I realized I needed help from a professional. I was beginning to have thoughts about how suicide would be a relief. My best friend told me she was worried about me and that caused me to make an appointment with a therapist. Actually, I tried taking anti-depressants, but found that they didn’t really help after the first few weeks. It was talking to my therapist that helped me the most. Therapy gave me a new outlook on how I had the ability to take control of my thoughts and stop the downward spiral before it took me over. She suggested books to read and techniques to use when I felt myself falling into that hole.” Everyone responds differently to the different tools used in treating the condition. That’s why it’s important to see a professional.
For this competent, cheerful woman, “I would urge anyone who is feeling depressed for a prolonged period of time to talk to someone – a friend, parent, teacher, or minister. Find a good therapist. Doing nothing will only allow the problem to get worse – and that can have terrible, irreversible consequences.”
“Teens can also be depressed because of biochemistry, hormones, trauma or a related condition,” says Judy, LISW-S, a therapist at Pomegranate Health Systems. “We treat depression and related conditions such as bipolar disorder or ADHD here. It’s important to understand the whole person and what’s at work. It is about much more than simply taking a pill and poof you’re better. Individual therapy and group therapy help round out an integrated treatment program. In the diagnostic phase, we might also identify PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, a more complex set of circumstances at work.’
Red Flags in Children’s Behavior is school-based training and intervention program with attendant materials offered by MHA- Summit County. The Red Flags program was “piloted in 10 Ohio middle schools during the 1998-1999 school year, reaching 3,150 students, parents and school personnel. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and the Ohio Department of Education have since made Red Flags Program Kits available to every public middle school in Ohio. A private donor made the kit available to all non-public ones. More than 1 million children and adults nationwide have received the informational booklet, Red Flags in Children’s Behavior.” See the following for more information on Red Flags.
For more information on depression in teens including causes, symptoms and related conditions exhibiting symptoms of depression, you can also read more at:
Finally, for some videos which exhibit teen points of view and clinical perspectives, see:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp6dEOubxFg&feature=relmfu (teen perspective)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZv_fv55Fcs&feature=relmfu (which parts of the brain are affected & biological causes)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLxFSiKXYko&feature=related (experience in teens)
[Photo credit: Crying teenage girl Corbis Superstock 1647R-167915]