The American Academy of Pediatrics announced this week that all adolescents, ages twelve and up, should universally be screened for depression. Yesterday, KSWB in San Diego had me on the morning news again to break down the recommendations on teen depression.
Live tv goes fast, so I had one big priority in my head: to share about the crisis text line. Most of the teens I know would feel more comfortable sending a text message than placing a phone call. You can do it privately in a room full of people and no-one would know. I would love for everyone to save the crisis text number now! If you text “HELLO” to 741741, any time of day or night, a volunteer will write back.
How can we prevent or manage teen depression?
Everyone– kids, teens, adults– needs to have a way to control stress. I think everyone should have at least one thing they know how to do on their own that brings them a sense of peace or mindfulness. Meditation is a super power! But mindful meditation doesn’t have to be sitting in a lotus and chanting. Mindfulness can be surfing, running, using coloring books…
Resilient teens can recognize when they are feeling upset and feel confident that they have tools to help themselves feel better. Parents can help their kids from any age start to self-regulate.
What can parents do when you suspect your teen is depressed?
The number one thing a parent can do is to talk their child about their feelings and be ready to listen.
Our biggest fear is suicide. 20% of teens with depression may attempt suicide. I want all parents, teachers, doctors, and coaches to be comfortable asking about suicide directly. Some people are afraid that bringing up the subject of suicide might put the idea in someone’s head. It doesn’t work that way. Ask:
- Do you wish you weren’t alive anymore?
- Have you wished you could go to sleep and never wake up?
- Have you had any thoughts about killing yourself?
If your child has any thoughts about suicide, you need to make a safety plan and include professional help. If you have any lethal means in your house, such as a gun, make sure it is locked away.
How common is depression in adolescents?
As children turn into adolescents, their brains, bodies and hormones are changing rapidly. We expect personality changes, including pulling away from parents, and spending time alone in their room. But when is it more serious?
We think as many as 1 in 5 adolescents may have clinical depression. Unfortunately, many, if not the majority go undiagnosed. And sadly, a lot of studies show that rates of depression in teens have been going up. Studies show half, or even up to 2 out of 3 teens with depression don’t get any help for it.
Watch the clip of the tv news spot on teen depression:
This clip originally aired on Fox5 San Diego KSWB TV Morning News on 2-27-18. Many thanks to Shally Zomorodi and her team for reducing the stigma around depression and seeking counseling. You can see more past tv appearances on my media page.
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