Symptoms Of Teen Depression, Is Your Backstreet Boy All Right?
Q: Backstreet Boy
A: J. McLean isn't an adolescent
any more. Maybe he never was -- by the time he was 12, he'd already
appeared in 27 plays. Now the teen idol is making a different
appearance: in a 30-day treatment program for depression and alcoholism.
A: J. got help before he got hurt. Not all of his fans will be so lucky. At least one out of every 20 teenagers has a major clinical depression. And when left untreated -- particularly when a teen self-medicates with alcohol or drugs -- depression can be life threatening. "That pairing of depression and use of drugs or alcohol leads to a high risk of suicide," Karen Dineen Wagner, MD, PhD, tells WebMD. The substances can cause adolescents to do something impulsive -- including harming themselves. Everyone knows that teenagers can be moody and uncooperative at times. So how do you know when a teen really is suffering from depression? Psychologist Michael L. Peck, PhD, a Los Angeles therapist specializing in the treatment of adolescents and young adults, says that depressive behavior is far different from normal teen sulkiness -- but that the symptoms are not always what one would expect. "Most adolescents go through what the layperson thinks of as depression -- a down mood for a short period -- but this is not clinical depression, which is a prolonged, persistent period of time where the person's mood changes," Peck tells WebMD. "For adolescents -- boys particularly -- depression is not always that hangdog, turned off, quiet, sad mood we usually think of as depression. There can be anger, edginess, and irritability, sometimes to the point of fighting. "Another kind of warning sign is not responding to friends, not responding to phone calls, not doing things that previously were interesting -- like sports, shopping, or being on the computer," Peck continues. "All the interest may have gone away and the person engages more and more in solitary activity or diversion-type activities. I am not talking about occasional moodiness but a dramatic change."
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