When you visit the family physician you expect the doctor to check your child’s eyes, gait, reflexes and heartbeat. But researchers say they have devised a very simple way to check young people for depression as well. The tool is simple enough to use in the doctor’s waiting room and could save young people years of needless suffering.
Depression – A Serious Adolescent Problem
Just how important is it to screen adolescents for depression? According to a 2014 report from the World Health Organization (WHO), called “Health for the World’s Adolescents,” depression is the leading cause of adolescent illness. A problem that affects that many young people deserves to be part of every young person’s wellness doctor visits. Now, it really could be.
The WHO also reports that 50 percent of people with a mental illness first experienced symptoms of their illness by the time they were just 14 years of age. So screening adolescents for depression is an important step in catching mental illness before it has a chance to worsen.
Just A Few Adolescent Depression Questions
Sharolyn Dihigo is a licensed nurse practitioner and teaches at the University of Texas, Arlington School of Nursing. She reviewed 14 prior studies on the subject of adolescent depression screening before suggesting use of CES-DC, which stands for Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children, according to a university press release. The CES-DC test costs nothing and requires no additional training for office staff in order to administer. The simple screening tool is a 20-question exam which queries youth on issues like happiness level and ability to sleep over the previous seven days.
Adolescents are notoriously tight-lipped about mental health and even if they felt they were depressed are highly unlikely to reach out and ask for help. Yet, experts suggest that as many as 20 percent of all adolescents deal with depression. By handing out a simple questionnaire to be filled out in the waiting room while a teen waits to see his or her doctor for a regular visit, many cases of depression could be identified and helped.
It’s important to use a tool like the CES-DC because depression doesn’t look exactly the same in young people as it does in adults. And depression impacts not just an adolescent’s emotions, but also how they think and behave. This is a common and serious problem that won’t just go away on its own.
Adolescence can be marked by moodiness, which makes it hard to figure out when a young person is just going through the normal struggles of growing up and when they are feeling more than a little overwhelmed. That is one reason why the screening tool is so useful. Still, parents should be aware of what depression might look like in an adolescent child.
- Crying without an obvious cause
- Anger and irritability
- Loss of pleasure or enjoyment
- Hypersensitivity to failure or rejection
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Avoiding friends
- Changes in appetite
- Substance abuse
Teens don’t have enough life experience to know that everyone struggles with feeling ashamed, worthless or hopeless at some point in life. It can be hard to open up about these feelings because they think they are uniquely broken in some way. The sad thing is that not until they open up and talk with someone about how they are feeling can they start to feel better.
Adolescent Depression Treatment
Treatment for adolescent depression may include medication, but often a period of counseling and some minor lifestyle changes are all that is needed to put the episode behind them. Sometimes, non-pharmaceutical remedies such as acupuncture or yoga can also work as adjunct treatments to therapy. The most important part of treatment, however, is acknowledging feelings and learning how to handle them.
Call Us Now If You Believe Your Teen Is Suffering From Depression! We Are Here To Help!