UMass Amherst Psychologist to Help Parents, Teachers Recognize Depression Among Teens

AMHERST, Mass. - Sally Powers, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, will discuss the signs and consequences of adolescent depression in the next Spring 2000 seminar sponsored by the Center for the Family, on Wed., April 12, at 3:30 p.m., in Room 217 of Skinner Hall. The program is free and open to the public.

"People once thought all adolescents experienced extreme turmoil and bouts of depression at some point during puberty, but now we know that is not true," explains Powers. "We do know, however, that adolescence is a time of life when the prevalence of depression rises dramatically."

Powers says she will try to explain what is known about depression, adolescence, and normal youthful moodiness to interested parents, teachers, and teen-agers. According to Powers, there is much science does not understand about a wide range of depression disorders, but researchers and clinicians assume the condition is the result of a combination of genetic, social, environmental, and biological factors. Depression can be mild, or it can require psychological or medical intervention.

The principal investigator of a three-year study of rural youth in western Massachusetts, Powers says there are very different patterns of depression in adolescent boys and girls.

"Girls are two-to-three times more likely to experience depression than are boys. We found that girls'' depression may be especially difficult for parents to recognize.

"In our study, we found that mildly depressed teen-age girls hide their anger at their mothers so well the mothers often mistake their anger as humor, and assume the girls are accommodating them," explains Powers. "Boys, on the other hand, will give in to their mothers in a conflict, but their anger will be obvious, and upsetting, to their mothers."

The Center for the Family fosters research, teaching and outreach activities that strengthen and support families. For more information, contact the consumer studies department, 413-545-2391.

Sally Powers can be reached at 413/545-3307 or powers@psych.umass.edu.