Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Parent to Parent: Teen Depression
Many teenagers feel the blues at one point or another, but how can you tell if your teen is down in the dumps or needs serious help? We have the answer in today's Parent to Parent.
WSVN -- Regina Jenkins should have been a happy teen. Instead, she found herself struggling with depression.
Regina Jenkins: "I didn't eat, I didn't sleep. I just sat around and moped all day."
It all started when she was 14 and lost her mother to cancer.
Regina Jenkins: "After she died, I became depressed, and I started doing stuff that a little girl wasn't supposed to do, and then I became suicidal."
Regina was hospitalized soon after she began talking about killing herself, and, parents, listen up, she is not alone. Teen depression is more common than you might think.
Dr. Sohail Punjwani: "It's a significant problem. Depression and suicide is the third leading cause of death in the teenage population. Out of every completed suicide there are ten attempts."
Dr. Sohail Punjawani says there are all kinds of reasons teens experience depression, from family tragedy to pressures at school or home, but teens are moody, so how do parents realize when it's a serious problem?
Dr. Sohail Punjwani: "If the mood changes and the irritability and sadness persists for more than two weeks, then you're going to begin to look at that situation closely to see if the teenager is suffering from depression."
Here's what to look for: changes in personality, feelings of sadness or fatigue and loss of interest in the things and people they love.
Dr. Valerie Goode says the best thing a parent can do is pay attention and reach out if something seems wrong.
Dr. Valerie Goode: "Don't offer them advice right away, and don't rush them to somebody else. Sit down and spend more time with your teen. You know as much as they'll allow and really, really be available for them."
Dr. Val says if the depression lasts for more than two weeks, that's when you should see a doctor.
Dr. Valerie Goode: "Stay connected. Don't assume anything that they're strong enough to handle this because they're not."
Regina, now 17, is glad she got help. She's happier and closer to her family than ever before.
Regina Jenkins: "Now I can talk to my sisters, I can tell them anything now, and I can talk to my Daddy. Me and my Daddy got closer now that I been seeing a counselor, and I feel better."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Valerie Goode
Mental Health America