14 May 2008

Teen depression out of control

A US survey shows that more than two million teenagers suffered a serious bout of depression in the past year, and South African experts say local figures are disturbingly similar.

More than two million US teenagers have suffered a serious bout of depression in the past year, including nearly 13 percent of girls, according to a federal government survey. And although SA doesn't have the statistics to compare, experts warn that the figures are worryingly similar.

Gender plays role in depression
But there were 'striking differences' by sex, with 12.7 percent of girls and 4.6 percent of boys affected.

In South Africa, however, Korb claimed that while the ratio of girls versus boys who commit suicide is a relatively similar proportion, depression amongst girls is almost twice as common.

How the US study was done
Researchers at SAMHSA and RTI International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, prepared the report using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Depression affects ability to function
Nearly half of the teenagers who had major depression said it severely impaired their ability to function in at least one of the areas on the disability scale.

What parents can do to help
"Fortunately, depression responds very well to early intervention and treatment," SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline said. He added, "Parents concerned about their child's mental health should seek help with the same urgency as with any other medical condition. Appropriate mental health care can help their child recover and thrive."

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