Clipped From Indiana Gazette
PSYCHOLOGICALLY SPEAKING How to recognize signs of teen depression By Dr. HAP LeCRONE Cox News Service Adolescence is an exciting but often stressful time in the life cycle of human growth and development. Physical changes — including hormonal ones — are taking place. Rapid growth, awareness of developing sexuality, increased negativism and rebelliousness are all quite common in this phase of the teen-a- ger's life. Identity formation, which includes the process of psychologically separating from the parents, and peer pressure surface. The lure of potentially harmful and destructive things such as alcohol and drugs and violence are ever present. Peer pressure and influences from the media may lead teens to engage in sexual activity before they are mentally ready for it, which can lead to teen pregnancy and emotional problems. Depression during adolescence is common in varying degrees. Disappointment and frustration resulting from unmet goals, fractured relationships and normal struggles with parental control are quite common. However, more severe and potentially harmful depression frequently arises as a result of the adolescent being in stressful situations for extended periods of time. These situations could be: * Parental separation or divorce. * Family tension or violence. * Emotional abuse or neglect. 4 Break-up with a friend. * Academic problems. * Death of a family member or close friend. * Personal health problems or health problems of another family member. * Sexual abuse. Because teen-agers are often sullen, irritable, prone to mood swings and desire distance from their parents, depression can be difficult to differentiate from "normal" adolescent development. The following are common symptoms of depression in adolescence: * An unusual change in appetite or weight. * Loss of usual energy. * Diminished socialization and detachment from friends. * Changes in school performance, loss of usual interest in school activities, poor memory or concentration. » Complaints of illness with little or no physical basis. * Sleep disturbances, including difficulties in awakening in the morning. * Aggressive behavior or agitation, being quarrelsome, showing disrespect for authority, belligerence, hostility, intense anger. * Prolonged feelings of worthless- ness, consistent display of negative self-concept, preoccupation with death, suicidal thoughts or attempts, running away from home. * Expressions of sadness, hopelessness and helplessness. * Persistent moodiness and crying spells. Depressed mood and poor self- concept taken together for a period of a month or more are highly indicative of depressive illness. Situations and symptoms indicative of depression should be attended to by the adolescent's physician or mental health professional. Next week I will discuss the terrible tragedy of adolescent suicide. EDITOR'S NOTE: Dr. Hap LeCrone is a Waco, Texas, clinical psychologist. If you have questions or topics you would like Dr. LeCrone to discuss, write him at P.O. Box 7854, Waco, Texas 76714..