Recent estimates state that 15 million children under the age of 18 in the U.S. have parents suffering from depression. Since having a close family member with depression tends to raise a person’s risk for developing depression themselves, this means at least 15 million children may be facing depression in the future.
Since serious depression often begins in adolescence, it is important that teens know to recognize the signs early in order to receive treatment. Answer the below questions to see if you are at risk for depression.
Question 1: Do You Currently Live With a Family Member Who Suffers from Depression?
Whether environmental or genetic, studies have shown living with a person who suffers from depression increases your risk. Whether your depressed family member lives with you or is simply a blood relative, you might be at risk.
Question 2: Does Life Seem Pointless?
We all have occasional feelings of hopelessness, especially teens, who are still trying to find their way in the rough terrain of high school. However, when that pointlessness is ongoing and begins to affect your daily behavior, interrupting your ability to enjoy time with your friends, it’s something more serious.
Question 3: Does It Seem Like It’s Impossible to Concentrate?
Sure, most people have a hard time focusing on schoolwork for a long period of time, especially when it’s dry reading from textbooks. But if you have a tough time concentrating even when you’re reading or watching something you enjoy, like a great movie or your favorite TV show, depression could be the culprit.
Question 4: Have You Withdrawn from Your Friends and Family?
While a certain amount of separation from your parents is normal during adolescence, generally this is the time to bond with your friends. Have you begun to withdraw from everyone? Do you choose to be alone when you could be spending time with others?
Question 5: Have You Noticed a Sudden Change in Your Weight?
Extreme weight loss or gain can be a symptom of depression. If you’ve lost ?your appetite or find yourself seeking consolation in food, the cause may be related to brain chemistry imbalances present in depression.
Question 6: Do You Have Insomnia?
Throughout life, you may go through periods of sleeplessness and even periods where you tend to oversleep (sleeping too many hours at night and/or falling asleep throughout the day). If your insomnia has lasted for an extended period of time, however, and the other symptoms match, depression might be the cause.
Question 7: Do You Have Aches and Pains?
This can refer to everything from persistent unexplained lower back pain to frequent stomach aches unrelated to other causes. Aches and pains can, of course, have many other causes, but in depressed patients they are thought to be related to the brain’s manufacturing of chemicals. The same imbalance that causes you to feel sad also may factor into the way you perceive pain.
Question 8: Have Your Grades Dropped? If You’re Involved in Extracurricular Activities, Have You Stopped Participating or Has Your Performance Decreased?
Inability to concentrate often causes a depressed teen’s grades to fall, along with the apathy and lack of energy that also come with the illness. That passion you once had for basketball, band, or the school newspaper may fade away once feelings of depression set in. It doesn’t have to be this way. With treatment, you can start getting back to your old self, putting yourself on course to graduate along with your classmates at the end of your senior year.
Question 9: Have You Thought of Suicide?
If you answer yes to this question, you are not alone. While teens are asked this question often, many could answer "yes" to it. However, in patients with depression, suicidal thoughts can be persistent and even dangerous.
One thing a professional will ask of anyone thinking about suicide is to hold off on doing anything until they can get treatment. Often with counseling and possible medical treatment a depressed person will begin to feel better and thoughts of suicide will disappear.
Sometimes depression can mask itself behind the typical emotions that come with adolescence. However, depression is not uncommon among adolescents. If you think you might be suffering from depression, seek help from a close family friend or your school guidance counselor or nurse. Even? a trusted teacher may be able to help guide you in the direction you need to go. Support is available to help you get back to your old self.