October is national Mental Health Awareness month. No one is immune from mental illness. Adolescents are especially vulnerable to mental illness and are a major at-risk population for developing severe depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that nearly one in six high school students have considered suicide and one in 12 have attempted suicide.
The National Institutes of Mental Health note that suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents.
Teenage depression can be scary for parents who may observe changes in their child. Behaviors to watch for are
- loss of interest in activities,
- personality change,
- sadness or hopelessness,
- changes in sleeping and eating habits,
- thoughts of suicide,
- difficulty concentrating or focusing.
If teenager is suicidal or in immediate danger, the teen should be brought to the emergency room or crisis center. Call 911, if needed.
Treatment for adolescent depression can involve antidepressant medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both medicine and counseling.
If you see a change in your teen, talk to them about depression. It is a difficult topic to approach, but it can be life saving.