Anxiety is one of the most common experiences among people of all ages—and one of the most poorly understood. Our bodies are “programmed” to elicit an anxiety reaction whenever a threat is perceived. Threats can be specific, such as being bullied, ridiculed or intimidated, fear of public speaking, fear of flying, or performance anxiety before a sporting event. Threats can also be general, such as fears of abandonment, rejection, failure, or the unknown future.
Depression is a commonly misunderstood phenomenon, particularly among adolescents. The normal mood swings and despondency that occur during the teen years can make any child appear depressed. There is always a risk of erroneously assuming that a child is depressed when they are exhibiting normal aspects of adolescent behavior and mood.
However, some children do experience depression to the extent that it requires professional assistance. Depression can lead to a lack of productivity in school, undermine a child's self-esteem and/or ability to maintain friendships, and increase a child's risk of substance abuse, eating disorders, self-mutilation and suicide.
Parents and adolescents should be aware of the common symptoms of depression. Depression is a fairly common syndrome (as many of 1 in 6 of all U.S. citizens will experience a significant depression at some point throughout their lives).
Depression is highly treatable, particularly with early intervention. Below is a list of the common symptoms of adolescent depression. Please remember that many of these symptoms are common among adolescents. If you need help distinguishing depression from "normal" adolescence, please do not hesitate to contact me.