Teen Depression: Know the Warning Signs

More than 600,000 teens attempt suicide every year, according to the CDC.

ByABC News
September 14, 2010, 7:45 AM

Sept. 14, 2010— -- Jordan was 19 when he jumped out of his ninth-story bedroom window.

"I didn't wake up that day knowing I was going to try and take my own life," Jordan said, who, like the other teens in this story, asked that his last name not be used.

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While recovering in the hospital, he shared his story with a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Although Jordan suffered for years before deciding to jump, he said, the newspaper interview was the first time he had ever discussed his feelings with anyone.

"He [the reporter] gave me a voice," he said.

But for many others, the chance to talk about their depression never came.

Maggie was only 12 years old in 2003 when her brother, Phil, a high school senior at the time, killed himself.

"He was smart, played three sports," she said. "He was the last person anyone would've thought would take his life."

Teenage years are emotionally impulsive and awkward for many. But for 20 percent of those teetering between adolescence and independence, life on the edge is more than just a phase.

About 2 million teenagers suffer from clinical depression and about 1 in 5 young people will experience depression before they become adults, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Teens experience depression more intensely than adults, said Dr. Harold Koplewicz, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and president of the Child Mind Institute in New York.

"The signs of teen depression is that it lasts for more than two weeks, and there's a change in appetite, a change in sleep, a change in concentration, a change in mood and, most importantly, a change in the ability to really enjoy things," Koplewicz said.

Teens are also more likely to pick up self-injuring habits, such as cutting their skin with sharp objects.

In seventh-grade, Casey, now 19, became obsessed with cutting herself.

"My sister started noticing that I was wearing long sleeves and ... there were cuts on my arms," she said. "I ended up cutting to the point that I needed stitches."