MANILA - A psychiatrist is urging parents to devote more time to their children as cases of teenage depression in the country have increased by up to 75% in the last 25 years.
Dr. Norieta Calma-Balderrama, chairperson of the Philippine Board of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said the rise in teenage depression came with the changes in the environment, technology and parenting practices in the past years.
"It can also be related to the environment such as relationships with family, traumatic incidents that children experience in school and in their relationships," she said.
Traumatic incidents may include loss of a loved one or even bullying in school. Teen depression may even lead to suicide if not addressed accordingly.
Among the signs of the teenage depression are as follows:
• Sadness, anxiety, a feeling of hopelessness
• Excessive or inappropriate guilt
• Irresponsible behavior
• Sudden drop in grades
• Difficulty in concentrating
• Difficulty in making decisions
• Memory loss
• Rebellious behavior
• Use of alcohol or drugs
• Promiscuous sexual activity
• Withdrawal from friends
Balderrama explained that while there are obvious signs of depression, some teenagers are able to mask it.
This is why, she said, it is important that parents always spend time to talk with their children.
"We try to devote more time with the children and address issues," she said. "The perspective of these children can be changed by talking to them."
Balderrama said devoting time to children is most important when they reach adolescence since this is the phase where they experience a lot of changes.
Good parenting, she stressed, decreases the possibility of depression, unless the source of the problem are the parents themselves.
"Children are like mirrors. They mirror the moods and what's happening at home or in the school," she said.
Balderrama said the moment parents notice signs of depression in their children, they should immediately seek professional help.
She added that teachers and guidance counselors should also be on the lookout for possible signs of depression, since teens spend more time in school.
"If a child jokes about death or suicide, we should be worried," she said.