Teenagers everywhere struggle to maintain an even emotional keel. So many changes coming all at once can be overwhelming for most adolescents. Depression is among the most common mental disorders that young people deal with worldwide and in the United States, one out of every eight teens struggles with it. Left untreated, common teen depression can lead to very serious consequences, including suicide. Depression is often triggered by hormone fluctuations or stress that can affect brain chemistry. Teens regularly experience a barrage of hormonal adjustments and the list of teenage stressors could be extensive. Parents should deal with their teen’s depression as soon as they realize it exists. Failure to do so allows depression to deepen and can result in many harmful behaviors. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that suicide is the No. 1 killer of youth ages 15-24 years. Depression, however, does immediately lead to suicide. There is usually a period of time with clear signs of emotional struggle before the teen feels it is impossible to escape their negative situation. Nevertheless, many suicides among young people occur because the parents failed to recognize the signs of depression in their child and act accordingly. The University of Cincinnati has put together the following list of warning signs to help parents realize that their teen may be dealing with depression. 1. Behavior changes such as disrupted sleep patterns or over-sleeping, lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable, decline in grades or schoolwork, giving away of treasured personal possessions 2. Verbal clues, such as stating that they want to die or believing that others around them would be better off without them 3. Stressful relationship circumstances, like the death of a family member or loved one, parents’ divorce, a romantic break-up or a close friend moving away 4. Some research suggests that teens who are transgender, bisexual, lesbian or gay are more at risk for suicide Parents who maintain a close relationship with their teen will be able to recognize the warning signs. Pay attention. Be involved. Even if the teen is struggling with peer friendships and relationships, if the bond with their parents is strong it can help prevent thoughts of suicide and self-harming behavior. The best way for teens to overcome depression and suicidal thoughts is to form healthy relationships with adults and peers and to ask for help. Moms and dads who stay close even when it feels like the teen is pushing them away can mean the difference between their child’s escaping depression or giving in to feelings of hopelessness.
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