Doctors Should Screen All Kids For Depression Starting At Age 12, Experts Say

It’s normal for teens to feel sad or moody sometimes, especially with the hormone rollercoaster that is adolescence — but regular sadness is not the same as depression, and it’s important to know the difference. “What we look for with depression is the presence of symptoms for at least two weeks,” Bauer says.

According to the NIMH, symptoms of depression can include feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or angry but may also include one or more of the following:

* Not caring about things or activities you used to enjoy

* Losing weight without dieting or gaining weight from overeating

* Having trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping way more than usual

* Trouble concentrating or issues with memory

* Feeling extremely guilty or worthless

* Thinking about or attempting suicide

Because teens may not be able to identify or communicate symptoms of depression, the new guidelines help providers look out for other signals. These include conflict in the home, poor academic performance, and withdrawing from friends and family. “We need to not assume we can spot a depressed child by looking at them, and as a pediatrician we have to check in on the child’s mental and emotional health,” Bauer says.

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