Depression in Teens: Your Top 8 Questions Answered

One-third of teenagers report having experienced at least one episode of depression. Surprisingly, less than 20 percent seek help for it, according to a recent survey sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you think your child may be depressed, don't let it go untreated. Get answers to your most pressing questions about recognizing and treating this condition from Dr. Francis Mark Mondimore, M.D., author of Adolescent Depression: A Guide for Parents. Then visit the Troubled Teens message board for advice and support from other parents.

1. How can I tell if my teen is depressed?
Everyone gets down now and again. When being down becomes an everyday affair -- day after day, week after week -- then something is seriously wrong. This is clinical depression. Loss of interest in school, friends, sports, anything and everything is another sign of serious depression. Low energy and loss of appetite are common. Other possible signs are dropping grades in school and alcohol or drug use. Thoughts of death and suicide are always serious danger signals.

2. Are there different types of clinical depression?
In discussing serious depression, psychiatrists talk about mood disorders. The most common and one of the most serious mood disorders is major depressive disorder. Teens with this problem have frequently incapacitating symptoms of depression that often last up to a year without treatment. Low, depressed mood, loss of interest in and the ability to enjoy things, sleep and appetite disturbance, low energy and feelings of failure and worthlessness are common.

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