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Teen Depression Myths

When a child becomes a teen, many parents are stunned by the emotional and physical transformations that accompany their child's advance towards becoming an adult. Many teens suffer from depression and it is important for parents to learn about this common condition. However, there are many myths about teenage depression and I would like to share some of them with you.

Myth: Teens are just moody.
Fact: The National Institute of Mental Health reports that up to 8 percent of adolescents experience depression. That's why it's critical for parents to learn to distinguish between typical teen moodiness and behavior that could indicate depression.

Myth: You're better off not discussing depression with your child.
Fact: Communication is the key to understanding what is going on in your teen's head. Even if he or she doesn't show it, they will appreciate that you care enough to ask how they are feeling. Remember you can still influence your child during the adolescent years.

Myth: Depressed teens look like depressed adults.
Fact: Adolescent depression will manifest itself differently. Teens many become defiant and irritable and some get labeled troublemakers because they challenge authority. Often times, this will prevent them from getting the help that they need.

Myth: Depressed kids are loners.
Fact: Depression can affect perfectionists, popular kids and punks, as it doesn't distinguish. The only common thread is that depressed teens tend to feel alone, even when they are surrounded by friends.

Myth: Depression isn't an inherited condition.
Fact: Depression does run in families. Frequently, if a teen has depression, one or more parents may also. It is important that other family members get treatment as well. The data shows that when a mother gets treatment for her depression, her child often gets better.

Myth: Teens shouldn't take antidepressants.
Fact: While antidepressants pose risks for a small percentage of youngsters, they shouldn't be ruled out. If they are prescribed, both doctor and parents should closely monitor the teen's behavior.

When talking to young adults, don't structure the conversation. Show empathy and understanding to let them know that you're not going to force them to do something they don't wish to do. With a doctor's plan, they too, shall be able to live a successful life in their community. Proper sleep, group meetings, family support, nutrition, exercise, and possibly a few counseling sessions will improve their depression.

For more information you may contact the National Mental Health America Office at 1-800-969-6642 or log onto www.nmha.org.


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