ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (WFLA) – At this time, US teens are in crisis. It is so serious that the doctors are all inside, adopting a practical approach. New recommendations now call for radical changes in the offices of pediatricians across the country.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has just announced new guidelines for pediatricians to screen all children 12 years of age and older for depression.
The reason?  It turns out that teenagers are at the forefront when it comes to fighting mental illness. According to experts, one in five adolescents is clinically depressed. In addition, two out of every three adolescents with depression are not diagnosed.
With these alarming numbers, doctors knew that changes had to be made quickly.
As much as any mother or father would insist that they would be able to detect depression in a child, many experts disagree.
Diagnosing depression is difficult, doctors say, since it manifests itself in many habits and behaviors, not just the obvious ones.
So as pediatricians treat young patients, doctors will now go through a checklist, a questionnaire and talk openly with teens about depression, ready to warn about signs that parents may lose.
Kimberly Walker, mother of three children, is happy to know that these new guidelines are being implemented. She admitted that she might not see all the signs pointing to a problem.
"It's amazing," Kimberly told News Channel 8 as she smiled at her daughter. "I know that my daughter and I are usually more sensitive people, which sometimes causes anxiety."
Dr. Matt Cavitt is the chief of pediatric psychiatry at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital. He is delighted to see the new guidelines and says that these recommendations could possibly save his life.
"It's a disease like any other disease, not a character defect," he said.
Kimberly is 15 years old daughter Sierra says that new guidelines are necessary.
The first-year student at St. Petersburg High School said: "Getting help is honestly something that people should do, but it's not always the easiest thing to do, so I think having professionals looking for [depression] is good "
According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, signs of adolescent depression include problems sleeping, loss of interest in friends, changes in appetite, hopeless thoughts, changes in body movements, nervousness, slowing down of reaction time and frequent physical illnesses.
Although parents may see changes in behavior, experts maintain that a thorough visit to a pediatrician is really the best indicator to determine a diagnosis of depression.