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Roots: Where teen depression begins

December 16, 2012
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Family Recovery Center Publicist

By Cathy Brownfield

Family Recovery Center Publicist

No matter what else she was doing-and mothers do wear a lot of hats-Eve kept an observing eye on her children.

April, the eldest, was active at school, and was a social butterfly. She went out with friends on the weekends. She was always home by her parents' curfew. May, the middle child, was a chatterbox who entertained everyone with her stories and annoyed her father on Sunday afternoons when he had the television tuned to the Cleveland Browns game. June, the baby, was sensitive and quiet.

But raising children is not easy. There was a flip side to her story. April, when she went out with her friends, drank a lot of alcohol and her cousin had introduced her to smoking tobacco, both of which she hid from her mother. But Dad, being her pal, knew about it and covered for her. May, stung by her interpreted rejection from Dad because he favored April, was hanging out with the troubled kids who introduced her to alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and sexual activity. June, abused and bullied at school, hid alone in her room most of the time. She confided in no one, but suffered alone.

At the very least, Eve suspected depression was resident in their home, and sought solutions to the problems so she could get her children on the right track to their futures.

"Depression seldom occurs in isolation," writes Kee Jeong Kim, Ph.D., "rather it comes with multiple symptoms and warning signs, numerous predictors and consequences which happen in multiple domains of adolescent functioning." Kim is an associate professor in the Department of Human Development at Virginia Tech. She refers to depression in youth in last month's issue of The Prevention Researcher, a publication that addresses adolescent development.

Mood disorders are the most common mental disorder in America, Dr. Kim writes. Anxiety disorders, behavior disorders and mood disorders are the top three most common disorders for youth ages 13-18. Depression, a mood disorder, also is known as Affective disorders because they relate to emotions, moods and feelings. Why do some youth become depressed and some not? The answers: genetic influences, family environment and psychosocial characteristics.

"Parental depression can be regarded as a risk factor that encompasses both the genetic and environmental influences that jointly predict depression in offspring," writes Dr. Kim. She goes on to say, "by observing their depressed parent(s), children begin adopting dominant features of depression such as social withdrawal and the expression of negative emotions, even though the children themselves are not depressed."

Chronic stressors in adolescent depression include domestic violence, parents' marital problems, poverty, and parental use/abuse of alcohol and other substances. A lot of attention has been given to maternal depression, but not so much on paternal depression, although it is an influence on youth development.

"Research shows an association between increases in the number of stressful life events that youth experience and subsequent increases in depressive symptoms," The Preventive Researcher advises.

This article is just the uppermost tip of the proverbial iceberg that is teen depression. For more information on this topic contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, FRC promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and other mental health issues and is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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