...a period of 2 weeks or longer in which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image.Even though 70% of the depressed teens reported severe impairment in daily functioning (chores at home, school or work, close relationships with family, or social life), only 39% received any mental health treatment!
Why did less than half of the depressed teens get help? The study points to at least one cause--lack of health insurance. Only 17% of uninsured, depressed teenagers obtained treatment. However, this does not explain why nearly 60% of teens covered by health insurance weren't treated.
The primary reason depressed teens don't get help is that neither they nor their parents recognize the source of their problems. It's easy to ascribe moodiness, irritability, lack of energy, and poor concentration to the stress and sleep deprivation experienced by today's over-scheduled teens.
In addition, the stigma of mental illness affects teenager's willingness to ask for help. Many suffer in silence and hide their pain from parents and friends. In an excerpt from Day for Night: Recognizing Teenage Depression, teens who have dealt with major depression describe the symptoms they had:
It's important for both teens and parents to become better informed about the symptoms and treatments for depression. The following publications from the National Institute on Mental Health are a good place to start. Because they are not currently available from NIMH, I've linked to pdf's on my website's Resources page:
Let's Talk About Depression
What to Do When A Friend is Depressed