Diagnosing Teen Depression

In order for diagnosis and treatment of teen depression to be effective, the healthcare provider must make a comprehensive assessment for teen depression. As part of this diagnosis, the healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and medical workup, and will also take a complete history of the patient's current and previous symptoms. Diagnosing teen depression also involves evaluating the teenager's family situation, age and state of development, and self-esteem and prior experience with illness, among other things.

An Overview of Diagnosing Teen Depression

Teen depression and adult depression are different illnesses due to the developmental issues involved in teenagers. Teenagers experience depression differently, and they may show different symptoms. However, if your teenager is showing four or more of these symptoms of depression for longer than two weeks, he or she may be suffering from teen depression.
 
(Click Teen Depression Symptoms for a complete list of symptoms.)
 

Is This a Normal Phase -- Or Depression?

Because normal behaviors vary from one stage to another, it can be difficult to tell whether a teenager is just going through a temporary "phase" or is suffering from depression. Sometimes the parents become worried about how the child's behavior has changed, or a teacher mentions that "your teenager doesn't seem to be himself."
 
In such a case, if a visit to the child's healthcare provider rules out physical symptoms, the doctor will probably suggest that the child be evaluated, preferably by a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of teenagers.
 

Specifics for Diagnosing Depression in Teenagers

In order to make a diagnosis of teenage depression, the healthcare provider will ask a number of questions and perform a thorough checkup that includes a complete physical exam and medical workup, as well as a complete history of current and previous symptoms. Diagnosing teen depression also involves evaluating the teenager's:
 
  • Family situation
  • Level of emotional maturity and ability to cope with illness and treatment
  • Age and state of development
  • Self-esteem and prior experience with illness.
     
A comprehensive assessment for teen depression is necessary for effective diagnosis and treatment.
A Dose of Reassurance for Parents of Picky Eaters

Depression in Teens

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