Teen's pervasive sadness may be sign of serious depression
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Friday, November 09, 2012
11/09/12 at 4:03 AM
Dear Doctor K: My daughter is a high school senior. She's become extremely sad and uncharacteristically moody. Is she just a "normal" teenager, or could this be more serious?
Dear Reader: Many teenagers have emotional ups and downs. But in some cases, a teen's sadness goes beyond normal "blues" and turns into depression.
It's more likely to be clinical depression when the sadness is severe; lasts for more than a few days; or makes it hard to function at home, school, work or play. It's really important to recognize depression because it can lead to drug and alcohol use, and, in some cases, to attempted suicide.
Doctors use the following symptoms to diagnose depression in adolescents: depressed mood or irritability; decreased interest or pleasure in all or most activities; weight change or appetite disturbance; not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much; doing things very slowly; fatigue or lack of energy; feeling worthless; and difficulty concentrating, thinking or making decisions
Based on these criteria, it can be difficult to distinguish a normal teen from a depressed one. But you can watch for warning signs that your daughter's sadness has gone beyond normal. These include, but are not limited to: sudden behavior changes; anger, agitation or irritability; risk-taking; giving away prized possessions; withdrawal from social groups; huge changes in dress and appearance; constant boredom; trouble paying attention and concentrating; extreme sensitivity to being rejected or failing at something; frequent complaints of physical symptoms without a clear physical cause; missing lots of school; and trying to run away from home
If you notice these or other concerning changes, call your teen's pediatrician. The pediatrician can do a basic evaluation to decide if your teen should speak with a mental-health specialist. If your teen expresses suicidal thoughts or feelings, take it seriously and see a physician immediately.
Original Print Headline: Teen's pervasive sadness may be sign of serious depression
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