Teenage depression isn’t just bad moods and the occasional melancholy — it’s a serious problem that can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, self-loathing and self-mutilation (“Teen Depression More Common Than Many Think,” Dec. 18).
Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders in the country and it is on the rise as one of the most serious health concerns facing us. The irony is that it is also one of the most treatable disorders, through psychotherapy and/or medication. Yet barely a third of the people with depression seek help or are properly diagnosed.
Most teens are very concerned about peers and friends thinking negatively of them, particularly girls. The adolescent teenage years are enough to make any parent cringe. Living with a teen is spending your days waiting for the next battle to erupt, only to be surprised once in a while with a hug or a long talk.
Parenting teens involves devising ways to help them become self-sufficient, make good decisions and use good judgment while keeping track of where they are going and who they are with. Parents of teens walk a tightrope of teaching independence and reining it in. Children and teenagers are by nature more impulsive than adults, their emotions less tempered by experience.
In addition to what experts know about the challenges of growing up, research suggests that regions of the brain that govern judgment are not well developed until later in life. This means that parents should be on the lookout for depression and dysthymia, a low-grade depression, at all ages because it can strike at any time.
The writer is a student at North Allegheny Senior High School.