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Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Rolling Eyes

(Pictured: Terri Polick, RN)

The rolling eyes, the defiant look, the unmistakable sound of, Whatever? If you are a parent of a teenager, you know what it is like. You want to help your child navigate through adolescence, but how? You worry and wonder about what is going on.

As a psychiatric nurse, I tell parents it is normal for their teenager to assert their independence by dressing in way-out clothes, listening to loud music, and by pushing the rules. After all, did we not all do that at one time or another? However, parents must also be aware that something else might be going on.

Noticeable changes in a child's behavior can be a sign of depression. There are 5,000 to 6,000 teen suicides reported in America every year, and on average, every 47 seconds a teenager in America attempts suicide and every 80 minutes a teen dies by suicide. The good news is that depression can be treated. The first step is knowing the signs and symptoms of depression. If your child has anyone of the following symptoms, seek care from a mental health professional.

Signs and symptoms of youth depression
(usually seen every day for at least 2 weeks)

Sadness (with or without crying)
Lack of energy
Temper outbursts and/or violent
Easily irritated
Sleeping too little or too much
Little or no appetite, or eating too often
Withdrawal from friends and family

Loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed (including school activities)
Feelings of extreme guilt or shame
Poor memory and concentration
Increased use of alcohol or drugs
Worsening grades
Skipping school or classes
Threatening suicide (even in a joking manner)

Citation: When Nothing Matters Anymore: A Survival Guide for Depressed Teens, by Bev Cobain RNC. Free Spirit Publishing, Inc. 1998.

The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Thursday, April 27, 2006  

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