October is National Depression Awareness Month, an observance created to educate people about the various signs and symptoms of depression.

Depression is an illness that can affect every part of a young person’s life and that of his or her family. As many as one in eight adolescents and one in 33 children have depression. But unfortunately, two-thirds of people with depression fail to seek treatment.

Depression can be especially damaging in the teen years, when it can disrupt relationships among family members and friends, hurt school performance, and lead to general health problems through its effects on eating, sleeping, and exercise explained Mike Haarer, licensed mental health counselor and director of Compass Rose Academy.

Compass Rose is a residential treatment center for troubled teen girls, offering a 9- to 12-month program for 14- to 17-year-old junior high and high school students.– many of them diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder or related conditions, such as Bipolar Disorder or General Anxiety Disorder.

“It’s critical for parents to know the warning signs of depression – and to take action if they notice those behaviors in their own teen,” stressed Haarer.

Signs and symptoms of depression in teens might include:

  • Irritability or anger
  • Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection
  • Changes in appetite – either increased or decreased
  • Changes in sleep – sleeplessness or excessive sleep
  • Vocal outbursts or crying
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that don’t respond to treatment
  • Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Impaired thinking or concentration
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Fortunately, depression in youth is treatable because it is a real illness with neurobiological roots. A comprehensive and personalized program of care, like those offered at Compass Rose Academy, may include psychotherapy or a combination of psychotherapy and medication. It may also include family therapy or work with the child’s school as well as interacting with peer support and self-help groups.

“Untreated depression has potentially great risks, including the risk, in serious cases, of suicide,” explained Haarer. “Depression’s symptoms interfere with academic learning, peer relationships, and family interactions, and can even derail normal development. It’s not a ‘let’s wait and see’ condition.”

Licensed as a residential child care facility by the Indiana Department of Child Services and accredited by the Council on Accreditation, the residential program provides a positive, nurturing environment for teen girls struggling with oppositional defiant disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance abuse and anxiety disorder.

Compass Rose also offers a variety of support services to parents who are not yet ready to consider residential placement for their child. Prevention services will soon include weekend conferences for parents and short-term experiential camps and activities for teens.

For more information, please visit www.CompassRoseAcademy.org.