DEPRESSION: Youth at risk for suicide

Depression is treatable

Depression is a treatable mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.  It is also a serious illness that takes over lives, and there are ways to support those dealing with it and get help. One of the best ways is to be aware and act on it – be present for others, offer connections, talk about it (even when it feels uncomfortable) and talk about your own challenges.

Depression can lead to suicidal thoughts

Teenagers with depression often are personable youth, involved in activities and even seem to enjoy time spent with others.  Their friends and family may get caught off guard by suicidal talk or thinking, or attempts to take their own lives.  Having depression affects how you feel, think and behave.  These teens show strengths that just aren’t enough to fight the illness of depression alone. This is too often true for stoic, self-conscious teenagers, perhaps boys in particular, who aren’t comfortable showing or sharing their struggles and feelings with others. We can raise awareness by showing vulnerability, being open to those different from you, and seeing strength in admitting weakness. In these ways we can work to impact others and encourage seeking help in a climate where many are offering connections and support.

Depression can happen to anyone

Depression is an illness that requires help and intervention to fight its effects.  Most of us experience feeling down when things happen that are hard to handle, or seem unfair, or make us feel not in control of positive change.  When these feelings of sadness or hopelessness persist and interfere with functioning at home, school, work, or community, intervention is needed.

Who is at highest risk?

  • Children under stress
  • Youth who experience loss or family instability
  • Teens with attention, learning, anxiety, or behavioral challenges
  • Young people with family members experiencing depression

What signs of depression mean help is needed?

According to the AACAP, if one or more of these signs of depression persist, parents should seek help:

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
  • Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
  • Hopelessness
  • Persistent boredom; low energy
  • Social isolation, poor communication
  • Low self esteem and guilt
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
  • Poor concentration
  • A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Talk of or efforts to run away from home
  • Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self destructive behavior

For more information, please see http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/The-Depressed-Child-004.aspx

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