Teens and Depression

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Depression among teenagers is unacceptably high, and suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among persons under 24 years of age. After years of decline, rates of suicide among the young have risen dramatically over the past 2 years. In this Patient Power program sponsored by Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Dr. Mark Reinecke joins Andrew to discuss how to recognize and help depressed and suicidal teens. Dr. Reinecke is a psychologist on the medical staff at Northwestern Memorial and professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

The discussion begins with Dr. Reinecke pointing out the signs and symptoms of depression. Most everyone is sad or down at some point in their life, but it’s important to differentiate depression from transient sadness. He explains how to know when to be worried and which threats should be paid close attention to. Dr. Reinecke addresses treatments for depression, including medications such as Prozac; the significance of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT); and the benefits of therapy.

This important discussion about an unfortunate, growing trend is one every parent should hear. Dr. Reinecke stresses the need for parental involvement to help your child or loved one through these difficult adolescent years. He also talks about resources available for depressed children and teens, why he thinks teen suicide is on the rise, and the future of depression treatment and research. If you fear that you or someone you know is depressed, this program is sure to provide you with a wealth of valuable information.

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Andrew Schorr:

Hello. This is Andrew Schorr and welcome again to another edition of Patient Power on ihealth.nmh.org, the webcasting we do every two weeks on the Northwestern Memorial Hospital website bringing you expert information from leading doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, other healthcare professionals at Northwestern and allowing you to ask questions and really make smarter healthcare decisions for you and your family.

We're going to talk about something that I've thought a lot about. I have two teenagers and three children all together. So one is ten and he's coming up, two boys and a girl. It's the topic of teens and depression, and unfortunately there has been a jump in the rate of suicide among the young just in the last two years, and the whole problem of depression among teenagers is really what I think most people would say is unacceptably high.

Today we're going to visit with Dr. Mark Reinecke. He's the chief psychologist at Northwestern University and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He's also on the medical staff at Northwestern Memorial of course, and he is professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Reinecke, this is a troubling topic for us parents, grandparents. What's going on? Am I right that it just seems to be a more prevalent problem now?

Dr. Reinecke:

I think you are. I think you're quite right about this. I think it's an important social concern. There's a good deal of research on it, and when you look at the numbers what we see is that fully five to eight percent of teenagers meet diagnostic criteria for major depression at any given time. So in a high school of a thousand students, 50 to 75 of them are going to be clinically depressed. The numbers with school age children, pre puberty, youngsters, are good deal smaller. There it's one to three percent. But still these are youngsters who are going to be becoming depressed, severely depressed at very young ages.

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