Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Teen Depression

Excerpts from an article by Connect with Kids

New research from Columbia University finds that nearly 50 percent of teens suffer from some form of depression, anxiety, or a number of other psychiatric disorders.

“A lot of people I know get depressed all the time about lots of stuff,” says 15-year-old Meagan.

“It’s like everything’s all on your shoulders and you have to take everything at once,” says Meredith, 14.

Sixteen-year-old Amy agrees, “Just this gloom was like hanging over my head and I knew something wasn’t right but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was.”

“My parents went through an awful divorce my ninth grade year and I was devastated, worse than my heart could ever imagine,” says 18-year-old Brittany, “and it hurts a lot, and I still hurt to this day and I’m a senior in H.S.”

The symptoms vary: some kids may be lethargic and withdrawn; others may show agitation and frustration, even aggression. Often, there is a drop in grades.

And sometimes these symptoms can cause parents to punish the child, instead of providing treatment.

“Rather than thinking of children’s misbehaviors as discipline problems or misbehaviors as deliberate,” says psychologist Sunaina Jain, Ph.D., “it’s important to see them as communications from the child.”

Experts say lots of kids experience depression or anxiety, often mild and temporary, but not always. And that’s why parents need to constantly check their child’s emotional pulse.

“You know it doesn’t take hours and hours. Even a few minutes of checking in with each other every day is a great way of saying you know I’m here, I’m interested in you,” says Jain.


The full article contains tips for parents, possible symptoms, and thoughts on treatment.

Reading the article reminded me of the importance of building assets into our children's lives. As we focus on the positive building blocks, such as support, empowerment, positive identity, social competencies..., young people have more strength to sustain the attacks of life and they're better equipped to heal when they are hurt.

Let's focus on building our kids up, but let's also be educated enough to recognize danger signs resulting from the many struggles children and teens experience.

(Thanks for our colleague Sharon Williams for pointing us toward this article.)