I often get asked by parents if their teenager may be depressed. It seems that more and more teens are at risk. Perhaps it is due to materialism which runs rampant (human nature tends to compare always—for example Johnny has a better pair of jeans; Suzie has an iPhone with a bigger memory) Perhaps it is due to more pressure at school to get the best grades in order to get to the best university.
The debate as to why depression is so common is not the focus today when I write this. The focus is recognition of the problem.
In a publication by the American Academy of Pediatrics recently I read about the MESSAGE acronym for depression screening. I like it. Hope you may also find it useful if you wonder about your sad teenager:
M Mood—depressed or irritable and Motor—very busy or very slow moving
E Energy (fatigue)
S Sleep (insomnia or sleeping too much) See www.healthykids.ca for more data.
S Suicide and Self-Esteem
A Anhedonia (lack of pleasure…unable to enjoy things most people enjoy)
E Eating—changes in appetite
The book “Feeling Good” by David Burns MD is a worth read on this topic. Get a copy. Read it—twice!