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Many parents don't realize that children and teens can suffer from depression. But they can. In fact, it is estimated that depression affects as many as one in eight adolescents in the United States. Symptoms of depression in teens can differ from those in adults, however. The following behaviors or conditions may be symptoms of depression in your teen. If your child displays any of these warning signs, call a pediatrician, mental health professional, school counselor, or the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). Remember that depression is a treatable illness. But, if left undiagnosed and untreated, depression can lead to suicide, which is now the second leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year olds in the United States.
Noticeable changes in personality or in eating and sleeping habits
Unexplained violent or rebellious behavior, significant problems with parents
Withdrawal from family or friends
Substance use, such as tobacco, alcohol or other drugs
Significant weight gain or loss and unusual neglect of appearance
Difficulty concentrating or unexplained drop in schoolwork quality
Problems dealing with sexual orientation
Unusual interest in themes of death or giving away prized possessions
Talking about suicide, or threatening or attempting to kill oneself
Running away or being incarcerated
Sources: American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics
Resources: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 3615 Wisconsin Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20016 1-800-333-7636 http://www.aacap.org Provides information on the diagnosis, research and treatment of mental illnesses affecting children, adolescents and their families.
National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) Colonial Place Three 2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300 Arlington, VA 22201-3042 1-800-950-6264 http://www.nami.org Offers wide range of information, support and advocacy for individuals and families dealing with mental illness.