Set realistic expectations, remain supportive to help teens through depression - Camp Lejeune Globe: Raising Healthy Minds

Set realistic expectations, remain supportive to help teens through depression

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Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 11:48 am

Depression has made the news a lot lately. More high profile figures are coming forward with their struggles with the difficult mental illness. Depression is a cause for major concern amongst mental health caregivers.

According to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) as of 2016, an estimated 3.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United
States had at least one major depressive episode. This figure represented 12.8% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17. 2.2 million of these adolescents
had at least one major depressive episode with impairment.
That means our most recent figures suggest 2.2 million of our youths have depression severe enough that it impairs their ability to function normally. This is a cause for concern for caregivers and parents alike. What can we do to prevent our kids from falling into depression and to help those who are suffering with it?
The first is mental health awareness. Many disorders, including depression,
have a genetic component. Be aware of mental health challenges that run in your family. Also be aware that unchecked stress and a lack of sleep can cause an onset of depression. The loss of a loved one or other life-altering occasions can as well. Thankfully, there are many ways to help prevent
Keeping your teens on a routine sleep/wake cycle, healthy diet and regular exercise regimen also goes a long way in prevention efforts as it does for adults. Teens with a strong network of family and peers also have a decreased risk for depression. Help your teen to find their niche and get involved in afterschool clubs or sports. This will help them to make connections, cultivate interests and discover what they are passionate about. If you suspect your teen may already be living with depression, look out for these symptoms:
• Decreased interest in or enjoyment of usual activities
• Hopelessness
• Persistent boredom and fatigue
• Withdrawing from friends and family
• Low self-esteem and feelings of guilt
• Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
• Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
• Difficulties in social interaction
• Frequent complaints of physical ailments such as head or stomach aches
• Frequent absences from school or poor academic
• 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 other self-harming behaviors
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-V) gives this criteria for a diagnosis
of depression: Five or more of the listed symptoms must persist during a 2-week period and if at least one of the symptoms are depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure. Seeing some of these symptoms from time to time is not abnormal. However, depression is very different from “feeling blue.” It sucks the life out of people and takes away the zest and desire to live how you once did. However, treatment is available. Counseling, antidepressants and lifestyle changes are some of the options that may be prescribed. As always, consult with a licensed mental health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Depression can be crippling, but with the right intervention and support, a full recovery is within reach. For local resources for depression, visit For more information

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