The New York Times states that, “Adolescent depression is a disorder that occurs during the teenage years, and involves persistent sadness, discouragement, loss of self-worth, and loss of interest in usual activities, ("Adolescent depression," 2010, p 1/para. 1). This has become the newest epidemic sweeping across the nation, not only affecting teens but hindering children as well. In fact, surveys have shown that, one in every five adolescents suffer from depression, and that 15 to 20 percent of teenagers will experience an episode of major depression before the age of 20, (NIMH, 2007). With suicide being a major concern with adolescents and teenagers that suffer from depression, early detection is imperative. There are various forms of treatment such as medication and psychotherapy, however each comes with pro’s and con’s. In today’s pill popping society, antidepressants are becoming the number one method of treatment, yet how safe are they if their number one side effect is suicide? Much research has been conducted and has shown a link to antidepressants and suicide. There is also evidence that the suicide rate could be decreased with proper diagnosis, early detection, and supervised treatment when dealing with adolescents and teens that suffer from depression. The general definition of depression is a psychological disorder that affects a person’s mood changes, physical functions, and social influences, ("Definition of Depression," 2010). Adolescent depression can be very similar to that of adult depression. On the contrary, depression is not as common in children as it is in adults. Depression is also overlooked in children and teenagers quite often. Adolescents and teens are in the early stages of discovering their feelings, what they are, how to control them, as well as how to express them. As Dr. Iannelli states: Recognition and diagnosis of the disorder may be more difficult in youth for several reasons. The way symptoms are expressed varies with the developmental stage of the youngster. In addition, children and young adolescents with depression may have difficulty in properly identifying and describing their internal emotional or mood states. For example, instead of communicating how bad they feel, they may act out and be irritable toward others, which may be interpreted simply as misbehavior or disobedience. (Iannelli, M.D., 2009)
There are many signs and symptoms commonly associated with depression, though most do vary with each individual. These symptoms include persistent sadness, irritability, loss of interest in usual activities, significant changes in appetite or weight, difficulty sleeping, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, difficulty concentrating and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, and actually suicide itself, (Iannelli, M.D., 2009). Other symptoms that an adolescent might complain of or exhibit are frequent headaches, stomach aches, constant boredom, and disruptive and or risky behavior. Symptoms of depression can be masked by alcohol or drug use and abuse, eating disorders, anxiety, hyperactivity, and even schizophrenia. Having a doctor do a complete physical examination can rule out other medical conditions, as well as evaluate for substance abuse. A major concern that parents should be aware of is that if depression is left unnoticed or untreated there is a chance it can lead to suicide. The National Institute of Mental Health, (NIMH, 2007) reported that: Suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. Of every 100,000 young people in each age group, the following number died by suicide: Children ages 10 to 14 — 0.9 per 100,000
Adolescents ages 15 to 19 — 6.9 per 100,000
Young adults ages 20 to 24 — 12.7 per 100,000 (p 1/sect. 5) The diagnostic criteria for depression are the same for adolescents and teenagers as in adults. As referenced in the...