Depression in America's Teens

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Depression in America's Teens

Teenage Depression. Everywhere you look these two words appear together as one, in newspapers and magazines, as well as in scholarly reports. Teenage depression is one of today's "hot topics" this among other teenage mental health problems, has been brought to the forefront of public consciousness in recent years after several incidents involving school shootings (CQ 595). The environment that teens grow up in today is less supportive and more demanding than it was twenty years ago. Not only are the numbers of depressed teens rising, but children are also being diagnosed at younger and younger ages. Studies have found that, "There is an estimated 1.5-3 million American children and adolescents who suffer from depression, a condition unrecognized in children until about 20 years ago" (CQR 595). This increase in depression is due to social factors that teenagers have to deal with everyday. A recent study found that, "About five percent of teenagers have major depression at any one time. Depression can be very impairing, not only for the affected teen, but also for his or her family-and too often, if not addressed, depression can lead to substance abuse or more tragic events" (NAMI.org). Gender roles and other societal factors including the pressures on girls to look and act a certain way, the pressures on boys to suppress their emotions and put on a tough front and the pressures on both sexes to do well in school and succeed, all contribute to depression in teens today. Depression is a growing problem which crosses gender lines and one that needs to be dealt with with more than just medication.

Clinical depression goes beyond sadness or having a bad day. It is a form of mental illness that affects the way one feels, thinks, and acts. Depression in children can lead to failure in school, alcohol or other drug abuse and even suicide. The warning signs of depression fall into four different categories: emotional signs, cognitive signs (those involving thinking), physical complaints, and behavioral changes. Depending upon the degree of depression, a child may experience a few symptoms or many. Also, the severity of each symptom may vary. According to the CQ Researcher, "School

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