Adolescence is a time of emotional turmoil, mood swings, gloomy thoughts, and heightened sensitivity. The acceptance of these "normal" adolescent behaviors can often lead us to ignore the constant struggle between teens and depression. Depression in teenagers is often over looked because they are not always able to express how they are truly feeling (Brown, 1996). Depression is often described as an exaggeration of the duration and intensity of these "normal" mood changes (Brown, 996). According to the DSM-IV classification of mental disorders, there are nine symptoms in which to look for when testing for depression. At least five of these symptoms must be present within a two week period to be considered depressed. These nine symptoms include: A depressed mood most of the day; reduced interest or pleasure in all or most activities; significant weight loss or gain, or significant decrease in appetite; trouble sleeping or over sleeping; body movements appearing to others as either restless or unusually slow; fatigue or loss of energy; feelings of guilt or worthlessness in an excessive or inappropriate manner; problems thinking, concentrating or making decisions and most importantly, recurrent thoughts of death and suicide (Santrock, 2003).
Teenagers often find ways to express their depressive feelings by dressing in black, writing morbid poetry or listening to depressive music (Santrock, 2003). Small clues to depression may also include sleeping all day, staying up late at night, skipping school, substance abuse or eating disorders (Santrock,. 2003). These clues may not specifically signal depression, but along with other symptoms should be considered.
Although in prepubertal children, boys and girls are equally effected (Angold, Erkanli, Silberg, Eaves, & Costello, 2002). It is in response to the early onset of puberty in females and other key factors that the rate of adolescent depression in females is double that of adolescent males.