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5 signs your teen is depressed

By Stephanie Grimes  |  Posted Jul 31st, 2012 @ 7:29pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Angst. Moodiness. Slamming doors. All can be taken as normal signs of growing up — but it can be difficult to tell when "growing up" behavior turns into depressed behavior.

Adolescent years are tumultuous, to say the least, and recent figures show teen girls are faring worse than boys: overall, the girls suffer at three times the rate of teen boys, and between ages 12 and 15, the percentage of girls experiencing depression triples.

12 percent of girls ages 12–15 and 4.5 percent of boys in the same age group have suffered at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, taken from the 2008 to 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Eagle Ranch Academy, a teen treatment center in St. George, provides the following tips for recognizing when teenage angst becomes depression:

What is a "major depressive episode"?
A major depressive episode is defined as experiencing a period of depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure for two weeks or longer and also experiences at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration and self-image. For more symptoms, see the guidelines provided by the American Psychiatric Association.

  • If a teen becomes overly quiet and withdrawn from others, tending to spend most of their time in their room away from family and friends, this could be a definite sign of depression. Typically, depressed teens do not wish to communicate with others and would rather avoid any type of social situation.

  • Dropping grades in school could also be another sign of teen depression. A student that usually gets A's or B's and is currently getting more C and D grades could be suffering from depression.

  • Quick or dramatic changes in mannerisms, dress, actions and choice of friends could also be a sign of depression. Observe a teen closely to see how his or her behavior and friend crowd has changed.

  • Behavioral changes that occur during winter months could be a sign of seasonal depression. Treatment for this depression may be different than others, but the symptoms for seasonal depression are the same.

  • Is a teen prone to listening to music on his or her iPod with the headphones' volume up to full blast for long periods of time? This could be another sign of teen depression. Sometimes, teens who do this regularly are trying to isolate themselves from the real world by tuning out everything but their music. It is not so much what music they are listening to as it is the fact that they are choosing loud volumes and isolating themselves, according the the center.

Depression may manifest itself differently in teens than in adults, and teens may respond differently and more alarmingly to antidepressant medication, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Current research focuses on factors that could influence risk, treatment response and recovery.

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