Teen Depression Puts Adolescents at Risk
Every year in the U.S. about 500,000 to 100,000 young people ages 15 to 24 attempt to take their own lives.
“Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers after accidents and homicide,” says Dan Becker, M.D., a psychiatrist and medical director for Mills-Peninsula’s Behavioral Health Services.
While accidents and violence relate to behavioral problems, Dr. Becker says that teenage suicide is more closely related to psychiatric disorders, particularly teen depression. Clinical depression occurs in about 15 percent of teens.
“For these reasons and others, it’s important that communities have appropriate treatment programs and facilities to help adolescents and their families,” he says.
A Delicate Balance to Fight Teen Depression
“Adolescence is an exciting time of development for teens and their parents, but can also be fraught with challenges,” Dr. Becker says. “It’s the stage of life when people feel pressure socially, as well as biologically and psychologically, to grow up.”
Although teens have many developing skills both cognitively and physically, Dr. Becker says they often also lack the judgment, experience or impulse control which can sometimes times lead to teenage suicide.
“For these reasons we sometimes observe seriously maladaptive behaviors during adolescence, including teen depression,” he says.
Getting a Diagnosis Early
Studies show that 50 percent of lifetime psychiatric disorders present by age 14, including drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders and clinical depression.
It is estimated that some 20 percent of teens have a diagnosable mental disorder. However, among these, about 70 percent do not receive the care they need, either because they cannot access care or choose not to seek help.
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Burlingame, CA 94010
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