Teen Sadness May Be Depression

ByABC News
May 2, 2001, 9:40 AM

May 2 -- For most of her 18 years, Zoe has lived in the projects on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and has been through some difficult times.

"My dream," Zoe recalls, "was to walk out of that door and get pushed into the train, or get hit by the bus, or for something bad to happen to me so that I wouldn't have to come home, so that I didn't have to deal with the everyday life.

In Charlotte, N.C., 14-year-old Dyana lives in a large house on a tree-lined street. But the suburban lifestyle and money had not sheltered the teen.

"I'd just stay in a little corner and stay there and just sit there and in the dark and be fine and didn't need anybody," she recalls.

Depression Pushes Teens to Suicide

They may come from two different worlds, but Zoe and Dyana have something in common. They are both recovering from teenage depression. They both have physically harmed themselves. And thanks to new advances in the diagnosis and treatment of teen depression, they are both getting help that is returning control and happiness to their lives.

One out of every eight teens suffers from depression, a condition so serious it leads 5,000 teens in the United States to commit suicide each year. But it could be prevented. Many teens never get the help they need, as parents believe their children couldn't be depressed, fear the stigma associated with mental illnesses, or think their child is just be a "typical teenager."

Helping teens through depression is something U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher is hoping to accomplish.

"I want to make it clear that just as things go wrong with the heart, the lungs, the kidneys and the liver in our bodies, even in children, things go wrong with the brain." Dr. Satcher says. "The only question is will the children get the help they need?"

The National Mental Health Association is sponsoring National Childhood Depression Awareness Day on Tuesday to bring attention to this issue.

Meanwhile, researchers continue to investigate new diagnostic methods and treatment approaches for depressed teens.