Depression in Teens Information

    • 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 have, or will have a serious mental illness. National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (Attachment “Children-MH-Facts-NAMI”)
    • About 2.5% of children in the U.S. suffer from depression. Depression is significantly more common in boys under age 10. But by age 16, girls have a greater incidence of depression.

    What to look for:

    A dramatic change in mood or behavior that lasts more than a week. (Most resources say 2 weeks of change but it can be useful as a school to check in after a week so that someone else can be paying attention through that second week)

    “All children experience ups and downs while growing up, but for some, the downs aren’t commonplace—they are symptoms of depression. Children and teens at higher risk for depression include those who have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning or anxiety disorders and oppositional defiance disorder. A young person who has experienced considerable stress or trauma, faced a significant loss or has a family history of mood disorders is at increased risk for depression.

    Children with depression are more likely to complain of aches and pains than to say they are depressed. Teens with depression may become aggressive, engage in risky behavior, abuse drugs or alcohol, do poorly in school or run away. When experiencing an episode, teens have an increased risk for suicide. In fact, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among children aged 15-19.”

    What to do:

    • Be empathetic and honest, “I’m sorry.”
    • “It worries me to hear you talking like this. Let’s talk to someone about it.”
    • “I've noticed that you haven't been acting like yourself lately. Is something going on?”
    • “I’ve noticed you’re [sleeping more, eating less, angry more, etc.], is everything ok today?”
    • “You seem sad a lot. I’m going to let [school counselor, your mom or dad, etc.] know what I’ve been noticing in case you want to talk to someone later about how you are feeling. What do you feel comfortable with me sharing.”
    • Contact your School Counselor or your Student and Family Advocate for support.
    • Communicate with parents about significant changes in the mood or behavior of their child (be behaviorally specific not diagnostic).

    What not to do:

    • Don’t diagnose.
    • Avoid saying things like “you’ll get over it,”, “toughen up” or “you’re fine”.

    Community Resources:

    • United Action for Youth (contracted with ICCSD to coordinate the Academic Mentoring Program)
    • Family Systems (contracted with the ICCSD to provide therapeutic services)
    • Horizons (contracted with the ICCSD to provide therapeutic services)
    • Mideastern Iowa Community Mental Health Center (contracted with the ICCSD to provide therapeutic services)
    • Student and Family Advocate (able to provide staff or family with contracted partners and other connections in the community)

    Online/Books/Printed Resources: