DEAR ABBY: Seeing a child struggle with depression is such a helpless feeling. Parents wonder how to talk to them as they withdraw from the people and activities that used to bring them joy.
Depressed kids are more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs and are at greater risk for attempting suicide.
To help concerned parents reach out to their hurting children, USA.gov has created the free online-only Kids and Depression guide at www.USA.gov/features/kids-and-depression. The guide's sound, compassionate advice helps parents, grandparents and teachers recognize symptoms and risk factors in young people. It explains treatment options, including counseling and medication. And it also includes age-appropriate information about depression that parents can share with their children, elementary age through college.
Abby, thank you for sharing this potentially lifesaving guide with them. - NANCY TYLER, SENIOR EDITOR, USA.GOV
DEAR NANCY: You're welcome. I'm glad you wrote because I receive many letters from worried parents and depressed young people. I know the online guide will provide important information they will find useful.
Risk factors for depression in young people include stressful life events, such as a family member's divorce or death, bullying, trouble with school or friends, low self-esteem or a disability or chronic illness. Symptoms of depression that last two weeks or more are significant. They may include sensitivity to criticism and outbursts of anger, sadness, headaches or stomachaches, changes in sleep or eating habits, lower grades and withdrawal from people and activities.
If you think your child might be suicidal, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255. It offers confidential help 24 hours a day.
DEAR ABBY: Should each spouse give an anniversary gift to the other, or is it solely up to the man to arrange for the special occasion and gift-giving? - SOON-TO-CELEBRATE IN ILLINOIS
DEAR SOON: An anniversary is not a surprise party. When the special occasion arises, celebrating shouldn't be the responsibility of just one spouse. The arrangements can be made by whoever is better at doing it, but gift-giving should be a two-way street.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)