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Just Ask: A Call-In on Teen Depression

produced August 2003
Watch the Video (Windows Media® or RealPlayer®)

Program Information | Signs of Depression | Online Resources

Depression is a disease and a symptom. It can be a disease by itself or co-exist with other disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), eating disorders, or substance abuse. Generally, current research supports that approximately six percent of the adolescent population experiences some form of depression. Left untreated, adolescent depression may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or attempts. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in youths aged 10-24. (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2000)

The good news is that depression is one of the most highly treatable diseases, as “Virtually everyone who receives proper, timely intervention can be helped.” (National Association of School Psychologists Center)

In this KET call-in program, experts answer viewers’ questions about teen depression: how to identify it; its causes; how it affects student performance and general wellness; and where parents, teachers, and students can look for help in treating it. The program panelists are mental health professionals representing organizations who work extensively with teen depression:

  • Armin F. Friedli, M.D.—child and adolescent psychiatrist
  • Al Speler, LCSW—children’s clinical coordinator
  • Vicki Tobin, Ed.S.—school psychologist
  • Chauncey Murphy, M.S.W.—school social worker

Kentucky residents may purchase videotapes of this and other KET Kids’ Health Specials. Call 800-945-9167 or e-mail .

Statements Indicating Possible Depression

Teen to Parent:
“Leave me alone.”
“I don’t want to play sports anymore.”
“I hate myself.”
“Nobody really cares about me.”
“I wish I was dead.”
“I’m tired all the time.”
“I just can’t concentrate anymore.”
“Nobody likes me.”
“Nobody can help me.”
“I’m depressed.”
“I’m tired, but I just can’t sleep.”

Teen to Teen:
“I think I would be better off dead.”
“I can’t go on.”
“I think I’ll just stay home.”
“I’d rather be by myself.”
“Do you have anything that will make me feel better?”
“If I fail another class, I’m going to kill myself.”

Teacher Observation or Teacher to Teen:
“He always looks so tired.”
“His grades have dropped significantly.”
“He looks like he hasn’t taken a shower in several days.”
“He doesn’t seem to be as social as he used to be.”
“He looks like he’s daydreaming all the time.”
“He used to not get into fights.”
“He can’t get along with anyone.”
“Why aren’t you doing your work anymore?”
“You look depressed.”

Possible Signs of Depression
(U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

  • sadness that won’t go away
  • hopelessness, boredom
  • unexplained irritability or crying
  • loss of interest in usual activities
  • changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • alcohol or substance abuse
  • missed school or poor school performance
  • threats or attempts to run away from home
  • outbursts of shouting, complaining
  • reckless behavior
  • aches and pains that don’t get better with treatment
  • social isolation, poor communication
  • extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • thoughts about death or suicide

Depression and Mental Health Resources

Publicly funded community services for Kentuckians with mental illness, mental retardation, and substance abuse problems are provided through the 14 Regional Mental Health/Mental Retardation Boards administered by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health Services Department for Mental Health and Mental Retardation. The boards are private, nonprofit organizations established by statute; each serves the residents of a designated multi-county region.

Additional online resources on depression and mental health: