Teenage depression is a growing problem in today's society and is often a major contributing factor for a multitude of adolescent problems. The statistics about teenage runaways, alcoholism, drug problems, pregnancy, eating disorders, and suicide are alarming. Even more startling are the individual stories behind these statistics because the young people involved come from all communities, all economic levels, and all home situations-anyone's family. The common link is often depression. For the individuals expressing this crisis, the statistics become relatively meaningless. The difficult passage into adolescence and early adulthood can leave lasting scars on the lives and psyches of an entire generation of young men and women.

There is growing realization that teenage depression can be life-changing, even life-threatening. (McCoy 21) Teenagers have always been vulnerable to depression for a variety of reasons. It's a confusing time of life because a teen's body is changing along with their relationships. "Teenagers constantly vacillate between striving for independence from family and regressions to childish dependence on it." (Elkind 89) But today's teens face an additional challenge: They " re growing up in a world quite different from that of their parent's youth. Adolescents today are faced with stresses that were unknown to previous generations and are dealing with them in an often self-destructive way. New parental lifestyles, combined with changes in the economy, often give less time and energy for parents to devote to their offspring.

Society all too often views teens for what that can be instead of for who they are. This identity is fragile and is threatened by fears of rejection, feelings of failure, and of being different. Their sexual awakening comes in the age of AIDS, when sex can kill. In summary, teens today feel less safe, less empowered and less hopeful than a generation ago. Depression strikes 5% of teens and about 2% of children under 12. One in their adolescents in the nineties is at risk for serious depression.

(Stern 28) Depression is the result of a complex mix of social, psychological, physical, and environmental factors. Teens with depressed parents are two to three times more likely to develop major depression. Genetic factors play a substantial but not overwhelming role in causing depression. (Dowling 37) Some type of significant loss can be a factor in triggering teenage depression. Gender differences are becoming apparent, with girls having more difficulty with depression. Studies show girls are three times more likely than boys to suffer depression.

A university study showed a close link between depression and negative body image and girls are usually more self-conscious about their bodies then boys. (Solin 157) The reasons for depression are not always clear. Al though some depressed, even suicidal teenagers come from extremely troubled backgrounds with a lifetime of difficulties at home and at school, the vast majority of depressed teens are not with out resources, support, or love. They simply find, for a variety of reasons, which they " re feeling, overwhelmed by a sensation of hopelessness and helplessness.

Depression can happen to teenagers, even to those who have everything going for them. It can happen to the best and brightest of young people. It's hard to detect depression in teens because it's a developmental stage characterized by considerable anger and withdrawal. Adolescents don't necessarily look sad and depressed and its normal for teens to have mood swings but within limits. A depressed teen may cry for help indirectly through troublesome, even destructive behavior and through physical symptoms. Depression ranks second only to advanced heart disease in exacting a physical toll, measures days in bed and body pain.

It's common for people with depressive disorders to complain about recurring headaches, backaches, chronic fatigue, and insomnia. Being sick can be a binding thing that keeps the teenager tied to parents, if the illness is the only time the teens receives attention and love from the parents (Dowling 127) "Suicide among teenagers has skyrocketed 2000% in the last decade." (Solin 155) Suicide has become the second leading cause of death among older teenagers. The seriously depresses teen may often have a sense of hopelessness. Many teens are too immobilized by depression to see any alternatives or to take any positive steps toward change. (Salmans 40) " All to often depressed teenagers don't have the experience to know that time heals, that there is always hope. They don't realize that they can survive a crisis and perhaps even learn from it." (McCoy 64) The destructive potential of serious teenage depression can have long-lasting aftereffects.

Depression is growing problem amongst today's teenagers. Depression brings with it many problems that can be self-destructive. If a teenager has the benefit of early intervention and help in coping with his or her depression, however, the life script can be quite different. (McCoy 66-67) 52 f Dowling, Colette. I Don't You Mean Have to Feel this Way New York: Macmillan, 1991 Elkind, David. Parenting Your Teenager.

New York: Ballantine Books, 1993 McCoy, Kathleen. Understanding Your Teenager's Depression. New York: Perigee Books, 1994 Salmans, Sandra. Depression: Questions you have Answers you need. Allentown, PA: People's Medical Society, 1995. Solin, Sabrina.

"I Did not Want to Live" Seventeen Apr. 1995: 155-157 Stern, Loraine. "I Feel So Sad" Woman's Day Oct. 1994: 28.