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Hello Idaho: How to identify and talk about depression in teens

In Tuesday's edition of Hello Idaho, Larry Gebert spoke with a doctor about when is the best time to reach out to a teen about their mental health.

BOISE, Idaho — 2020 has been a rough year for many, with emotions running high during a global pandemic, this has been especially true for adolescents.

Teens in 2020 face the unique situation of uncertainty with many school's plans on fully reopening for in-person learning and some districts reverting back to online classes due to outbreaks of the coronavirus in schools.

Throw in raging hormones and the typical struggles of being a teenager in the 21st century, now can be an important time to know how to reach out to someone who might be struggling.

In Tuesday's edition of Hello Idaho, Larry Gebert spoke with a doctor about when is the best time to reach out and what way may work best.

Editor's Note: The following interview has been edited for clarity and/or grammar.

Larry Gebert: Adolescent depression is something that can be treated if you find it early and it also can be very successfully treated. That's what we're talking about because it could also lead to suicide and that's what we're trying to help with, Hello Idaho.  Joining us is a board psychiatrist, Dr. Roberto Negron. He is the assistant medical director at Cottonwood Creek Behavioral Hospital and the Director of Adolescent Psychiatry at Saint Alphonsus. As I mentioned already, the fact is if we treat this early like any disease really If we find it early and we treat it early it is more successfully treated. 

Dr. Roberto Negron: It can be identified mostly in children and adolescents. That's when it starts to show itself. The symptoms are isolated from your family feeling depression that is, difficulty functioning at home or at school, grades dropping. 

Larry: Is there anything at all to genetics? I mean, is there any kind of family history? They could also be an indicator? 

Dr. Negron: Yeah, absolutely. This tends to run in families. So if you're a parent of a child and you know that there's a history in your family or you suffer from depression yourself. You want to be looking for that in your children. 

Larry: I think one of the hardest things though for parents adults family friends, whatever the case may be is they may see this in a child, but they don't know exactly where to step in where's the point where we should step in and do something.

Dr. Negron: You really want to step in as early as you can during the course of the illness. We know that it can handicap you can lead to Suicide as he already mentioned. So we want to avoid those complications of failing grades and self-harm behaviors and things like that or substance use which is not much greater and much more likely in these adolescents who are depressed. 

Larry: I think we always have to be careful because we don't want the rejection or to have them say, 'Leave me alone,' 'I'm fine,' 'There's nothing wrong with me.' It's really is more about asking in this really just to just asking about things but necessarily identifying just really asking?

Dr. Negron: Yeah, I think that's great. And especially today with the COVID-19 pandemic, will the things that are going on in the world kids that go to school have less time with their peers, you ask a look, you know, a lot of teenagers are getting depressed and it's a difficult time for everyone. 'How are you doing? Have you had any of these thoughts or feelings?' It's okay to talk about I don't want this to interfere in your ability to do well in school etcetera. 

Larry: Thank you so much. I appreciate your time and remember for all of us, if you see a teen that needs a little bit of help, say hi. Say Hello. Talk to them.

Watch more 'Hello Idaho':

Watch our latest conversations about mental health in our YouTube playlist: