As summer comes to a close and I start seeing all my teenagers for the school physicals, it gives me time to reflect on the past year- how my children are growing so fast, how my patients seem to have aged overnight, and how so much seems to have changed this year in the office.
One of the things that I have been working on this past year is trying to find a way to help our teenagers that seem to be “falling”. I am seeing more and more teenagers that are sad, depressed, anxious or just plain worried. Life is fast paced and they have so many expectations on them. As parents we try to understand all they are going through, but their world is not the world we grew up in. Everything is out there on a screen or in print for them to see. The world moves by quickly and they are expected to keep up.
Last summer it really hit me how many teens are suffering. We saw teenagers from schools in Whitefish Bay and Nicolet commit suicide. I had many patients that made gestures looking for help- and teens are good at hiding their feelings. Also, their signs of depression are not always what an adult might think of as depression. While some may seem sad, others are angry and irritable. Friends may change. Grades may start to fall in school. I think the message is just be alert for changes- any change.
As we have seen this week on the news with the death of Robin Williams, suicide happens. We will miss the laughter he shared with the world. This makes us think that even if one seems to “have it all”, depression is something that is non-discriminating.
Action is being taken around our community to try to address the face of teen depression. The local schools have started an organization- RedGen. Through their efforts national speakers are coming to speak to parents and others in the community about this national trend. Take a moment and check out their website -www.REDgen.org. Come to one of their functions- it is a start.
When my teen patients come see me, I am now asking them to fill out an adolescent health questionnaire that is designed to help me identify those at risk for depression a little sooner.The more we can learn as parents, the more we can try to help our children.
I’d like to share a few resources that may be helpful for you or someone who you know.
We can’t fix everything for them, but hopefully we can provide them with some tools, or take them to someone who can give them tools to help them.