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Be A Lookout For Signs Of Teenage Depression
My 16-year-old has lost interest in her usual summer activities. She avoids friends and acts angry and resentful. Can teenagers suffer from depression?
"Young people can, indeed, suffer from depression," says Courtney Sutherland, M.D., a board-certified physician specializing in Family Medicine at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. "Untreated, teen depression can lead to troubled relationships at home and school, drug abuse, promiscuity - and even tragedy."
Dr. Sutherland says it's not always easy to tell the difference between depression and the normal moodiness and growing pains of the teenage years.
"Some teens suffering from depression may exhibit feelings of sadness and hopelessness," she says. "For others, symptoms of irritability, aggression and rage are more prominent."
She says if you are unsure if an adolescent in your life is depressed or just "being a teenager," consider the length and severity of the symptoms. Dramatic, long-lasting changes in personality, mood or behavior could be warnings signs of a deeper problem.
"If you have concerns, make an appointment for your teen to see your family physician or pediatrician for a complete physical exam," she adds. "Your doctor will check for medical causes of depression and may ask your teen about alcohol or drug use, sleeping habits, diet and medications, including birth control or diet pills."
If medical problems are ruled out, a mental health professional specializing in treating adolescents may be recommended for your teen's care.
"Fortunately, once it's properly identified, teenage depression can be treated," concludes Dr. Sutherland, who cares for children and adult patients at Kelsey-Seybold's Main Campus located near the Texas Medical Center.