WSFA/NBC - Weeks after a 19-year-old opened fire killing 17 people at a Parkland, FL, high school, medical experts are digging even deeper into teen depression. Now they're recommending some new changes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics now says all children over the age of 12 should have depression screening at their regular checkups.
"So many teens don't have access to mental healthcare, it has to start with their pediatrician," said Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, a child and family psychologist. "And these changes really point in that direction."
It's the first time in a decade health leaders have updated their guidelines for teen depression. As many as one in five teens experience depression at some point in their teen years. But often teen depression goes undiagnosed and untreated.
We all know that teens can be moody at times. Experts say we need to watch for significant changes in teen behavior, and if we see something we need to start a conversation.
"Anything that you notice that seems out of the ordinary, you can't be afraid to ask that teenager what's going on or if they're okay. I think that sometimes they're just looking for the validation of someone noticing that there's something different," Hartstein said.
Health experts say you should get professional help if symptoms last longer than two weeks. Things like changes in appetite, sleep problems, thoughts of hopelessness, or losing interest in friends are all red flags.