15 Million Children and Teens are Struggling. Can’t We do More?

Depression and anxiety are never easy things to come to terms with. It doesn’t matter if you are fourteen or forty-one, you will struggle if you are affected with feelings of helplessness. You try to find your way on your own before reaching out for help, and when and if you do find the words, it can feel incredibly scary.

Mental health problems among teens and children are growing

Depression and anxiety affect so many and yet there is still a stigma attached to it. I know when I like I’m in a dark place, it’s extremely hard to ask for help simply because I don’t know how to form the words, or I’m afraid I will be bothering someone.

Lately, I’ve been watching my teenager struggle with anxiety. I can tell how hard it is for him to articulate his feelings as he doesn’t fully understand what is happening to him or why he is acting the way he is.

But it’s important we continue to have a dialogue around the subject, especially for our kids. They need to know they can reach out to someone they trust, they won’t be judged, and there is help for them.

I believe the best way to reassure them it is to continue talking about it and spreading knowledge on the subject– the more we know and the more comfortable people are, the less scary it feels to ask for what you need.

It can be hard for the parents and child to know if they are just moody teenagers, or if something more serious is going on.

Such was the case with Alex Crotty, a very brave 16-year-old who spoke to the Today Show in hopes of getting a message out there: There is no shame a depression diagnosis. It’s vital if you are feeling like you can’t crawl out of a dark place that you get help.

Crotty and her family talk openly about her struggle with depression during their interview and it’s sure to help other teens and families who are going through the same thing.

She talks about starting to feel different around age 11 and explains she could “feel nothing.” Crotty kept it to herself for three years and finally talked to her mother about what was going on and began to get the help she needed.

She’s doing fine now but talks about how she was scared to reach out and ask for help because she felt ashamed– and that is the huge problem we are facing.

NBC News states ,”The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 5 American children ages 3 through 17– about 15 million– have a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral disorder in a given year.”

15 million— that’s a scary statistic. The article goes on to say “Only 20 percent of these children are ever diagnosed and receive treatment.”

That’s even more frightening.

Dr. Harold Koplewicz, founder of The Child Mind Institute tells NBC “Child and adolescent mental health disorders are the most common illness that children will experience under the age of 18.”

This is why we need to hear stories like Alex’s. This is why we need to check in with our kids all the time and not be afraid to get an expert’s opinion is something feels off. This is why we need to break down the feeling of shame attached to such a serious diagnosis.

Koplewicz says,” Teenagers have a different kind of depression. The don’t seem sad. They seem irritable.” He goes on to say it will affect everything in their life; friendship, and how they do in school, and their sleep habits.

A good rule of thumb for parents to follow is if you see your teen “experiencing moodiness and irritability for more than two weeks and it’s occurring every day, for most of the day, and if you see a change in sleep patterns and a change in desire to work and socialize,” Koplewicz says.

The family wanted to talk about it to break the shame and stigma that clouds depression. So many feel too embarrassed to reach out and it’s about the time that changes.

If you or someone you know are suffering, there are places to get help. No one should have to suffer in silence.

Related:

Centers for Disease Control (CDC): Children’s Mental Health

The Rate of Teen Depression is Growing: What Parents Need to Know

7 Ways I Dealt With the Crippling Anxiety That Comes With College

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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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