Clinical depression is a disease that afflicts the human psyche in such a way that the afflicted tends to act and react abnormally toward others and themselves. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to discover that adolescent depression is strongly linked to teen suicide. Adolescent suicide is now responsible for more deaths in youths aged fifteen to nineteen than cardiovascular disease or cancer (Blackman, 1995). Despite such an increased suicide rate, depression in this age group remains greatly under-diagnosed. The affects of clinical depression can lead to serious difficulties in school, work, and personal adjustment, which may often continue into adulthood. How prevalent are mood disorders in children and when should an adolescent with changes in mood be considered clinically depressed?.
Brown (1996) has said in "Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents" that the reason why depression is often overlooked in children and adolescents is that "children are not always able to express how they feel." Sometimes the symptoms of mood disorders take on different forms in children than in adults. Adolescence is a time of emotional turmoil, mood swings, gloomy thoughts, and heightened sensitivity. It is a time of rebellion and experimentation. Blackman (1996) observed that the "challenge is to identify depressive symptomatology which may be superimposed on the backdrop of a more transient, but expected, developmental storm." Therefore, diagnosis should not lie only in the physician's hands but be associated with parents, teachers, and anyone who interacts with the patient on a daily basis. Unlike adult depression, symptoms of youth depression are often masked. Instead of expressing sadness, teenagers may express boredom and irritability or may choose to engage in risky behaviors (Oster & Montgomery, 1996). Mood disorders are often accompanied by other psychological problems such as anxiety, eating disorders, hyperactivity, substance abuse, and suicide, all of which can hide depressive symptoms (Blackman, 1995; Brown, 1996; Lasko et al.